The New York Liberty will have a tough semifinals matchup against the Washington Mystics on Friday night at the Garden to begin the WNBA playoffs. The Eastern Conference's top seed will play a best-of-three series against a fourth-seeded Washington Mystics (18-16) team that had New York's number during the regular season.
Here are some keys to keep track of as the Liberty (23-11) hope to continue their winning season.
The Mystics won three of the four regular-season matchups, with the most recent defeat coming in blowout fashion on Sept. 11 at the Garden, 82-55. While the Liberty were resting players during that particular matchup, the other three contests were certainly meaningful games. The Liberty dropped the first two head-to-head meetings before finally getting a win in Washington on July 9.
Protect home court
Thanks to the league's top record, the Liberty will have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. New York faired well this year at the Garden, posting a 12-5 record. However, two of those five home losses came at the hands of the Mystics, who went 7-10 this season on the road.
Battle of the bigs
One of the key individual matchups of the series will be between the two centers Tina Charles and Stefanie Dolson. While Charles had an MVP-caliber season for New York, Dolson held her own the four times the teams did battle this season, including scoring a season-high 22 points in their third meeting. Charles got the last laugh in that contest, scoring 21 points of her own in a 79-76 Liberty victory.
Don't expect much scoring over this three game series, as the Liberty and Mystics are Nos. 1 and 2 in opponents points per game at 71.1 points and 71.2 points, respectively. Both teams failed to reach 80 points in their first three regular-season meetings.