New York Liberty controls its own destiny in pursuit of playoffs
New York coach Sandy Brondello isn’t looking at the scoreboard with the Liberty two games away from a playoff spot — and maybe not too.
There are eight playoff spots in the WNBA and New York (10-17) is 10th in the standings heading into Tuesday night’s games with nine games remaining.
But the good news for the Liberty is that eight of those nine games are against Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Atlanta – teams they trail by two wins. New York is still in playoff contention despite seven of its last nine games.
“We control our own destiny,” Brondello said Monday after practice. “We’ll just take one game at a time and see where we end up.”
New York was in a very similar position last year and the Liberty earned a playoff berth on the last day of the regular season. The Liberty end this season with a home-and-away with the Dream, who are battling for a playoff spot on their own.
The Liberty is also 10th in the AP WNBA Power Poll this week.
This week’s WNBA poll:
1. Chicago (21-7): The Sky enjoyed their six-game winning streak in New York, but Courtney Vandersloot will now be back in the lineup after clearing concussion protocol. His presence will give them a lift on the stretch.
2. Las Vegas (20-8): The Aces will be tested in their next five road games. The journey begins Tuesday night in Chicago for the Commissioner’s Cup championship.
3. Connecticut (19-9): The Sun are 5-1 since the All-Star break, but lost recent acquisition Bria Hartley to a knee injury in their last game.
4. Seattle (18-10): Tina Charles had her best game since signing with the Storm in a win over Atlanta. She can provide a huge boost as a third scoring option for Seattle. Charles, 33, became the fourth player in league history to reach 7,000 points last week.
5. Washington (17-11): The Mystics start a busy week with a trip to Dallas that Elena Delle Donne will most likely skip before playing back-to-back home games against Seattle. She’s averaging 23.4 points in the last five games.
6. Atlanta (12-16): The Dream returns home for four straight games. This homestand will go a long way in determining whether they can make the playoffs for the first time since 2018.
7. Los Angeles (12-15): The Sparks need to find consistent offensive help for Nneka Ogwumike to make a playoff run. She has an average of 18.7 points, the third of her career.
8. Dallas (12-15): The Wings recently got a solid production from Teaira McCowan, who provided an inside presence to team up with Arike Ogunbowale on the outside.
9. Phoenix (12-16): The Mercurys still don’t have an inside threat on offense that requires a double team. Their wins usually come when Skylar Diggins-Smith, Diana Taurasi and Sophie Cunningham play well.
10. New York (10-17): The Liberty have rarely had their entire team together this season due to injuries and are still missing Betnijah Laney (knee). Han Xu has been a bright spot for the team all season as the 6-foot-10 Chinese center continues to develop.
11. Minnesota (10-19): The Lynx have lost four of their last five games and are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
12. Indiana (5-25): There have been few positives for the Fever in terms of wins this season, but Indiana got another strong year from guard Kelsey Mitchell, who is averaging 18.6 points in career.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas has been voted AP Player of the Week. She averaged 16 points, 11 rebounds and 7.3 assists and had the first triple-double of her career to help the Sun win all three games. Skylar Diggins-Smith of Phoenix, Nneka Ogwumike of Los Angeles, Candace Parker of Chicago and A’ja Wilson of Las Vegas also received votes.
The Los Angeles Sparks announced Tuesday that they have agreed to a contractual divorce from Liz Cambage. It’s the second time this season a team has done this with a player as Phoenix and Tina Charles parted ways last month in a similar fashion.
Cambage, 30, signed with Los Angeles on Feb. 15 as a free agent. She averaged 13.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 25 games this season.
GAME OF THE WEEK:
Seattle to Washington, Saturday and Sunday. These two games can go a long way in determining who gets home-court advantage if these two teams — currently in fourth and fifth place in the standings — meet in the playoffs.
More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports