The New York Liberty (7-11) are 2-7 in the month of July. Their most recent win on July 23 came because of their lone All-Star Cappie Pondexter. The Liberty were the only Eastern Conference team without multiple All-Stars, if you count the Dream as having two (Erika de Souza replaced Elena Delle Donne on the roster). However, the Indiana Fever, who went into the July 23rd game having won six of seven, found out that night that a single star of Pondexter’s magnitude is enough to give a team a chance to go out and win on any given night.
On Wednesday, the Mystics (9-9) will face the Liberty and finally get to see how they measure up against the only WNBA team they have yet to face. It will be the first WNBA game played since the All-Star Game and the Mystics’ first since an exciting 82-78 home win over Chicago on July 24 that once again had them looking like a playoff caliber team.
But the Mystics have had moments that have not looked so good, such as a 65-52 loss to Indiana the game before their victory over the Sky. One thing the Mystics can say is, despite their inconsistency at times, there is not another team in the league who has truly had their number thus far, with the exception of maybe Atlanta. They are 0-2 against the Dream, as well as the Mercury, but were in contention for the most part both times against Phoenix. They are also 0-1 with a 10-point loss to the Sparks.
There is no indication that New York will break Washington’s trend of playing about even with pretty much the whole league. If the Liberty win, expect it to be close and expect the Mystics to play with a lot of pride especially after Mike Thibault challenged them to be better midway through their latest game against the Sky.
In addition to Pondexter, who is fifth in the league in points per game with 18.1, the Liberty have Plenette Pierson, who is averaging 11.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. No. 5 overall pick Kelsey Bone has also been making a solid contribution with 6.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, while averaging 21 minutes. Katie Smith, Alex Montgomery, Kara Braxton and Leilani Mitchell all play over 20 minutes a game as well, giving New York a pretty good seven-player rotation, with a few others playing about half as much.
However, it is Pondexter who leads the entire WNBA in minutes per game, and, for the most part, as she goes, the Liberty go.
The Mystics’ goal will obviously be to contain Cappie and avoid seeing any dagger shots go down late in the game like Indiana did on July 23. Might not be a bad idea to get Crystal Langhorne going either. She hasn’t been in double figures since July 16 against the Silver Stars.
Wednesday marks the first of four 2013 meetings the Mystics have with the Liberty, an opponent that is yet another below Washington in the standings, but certainly not one the Mystics want to sleep on.