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Liberty, Chicago Sky clash twice for top spot in East

Liberty's Cappie Pondexter (23) drives against Chicago Sky's

Liberty's Cappie Pondexter (23) drives against Chicago Sky's Sasha Goodlett during the first quarter of a WNBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden, Friday, June 27, 2014. Photo Credit: Jason DeCrow

Separated by just one game atop the Eastern Conference, the first-place Liberty play the second-place Chicago Sky in New York's next two games. The first meeting, set for 8:30 p.m. Friday, will test the Liberty on the road.

Forward Swin Cash has started 13 games for the Liberty (13-6) this season, and the 14-year veteran is looking forward to her team's tough upcoming test against the Sky (13-8) and its 6-5 star Elena Delle Donne, who leads the league in scoring with 24.3 points per game.

"Playing a team like Chicago that went to the Finals last year and won the Eastern Conference, it's gonna be a challenge," Cash told amNewYork Thursday at the MSG Training Center in Greenburgh. "They're playing well, and we're playing well right now, so these are the kind of games you live for. We understand that if we handle business and win both these games, we put ourselves in a great position moving forward."

The Liberty's inspiring play has not only angled it for its first playoff run since 2012, but also the realistic possibility of winning the franchise's first championship.

Cash won two championships with the Detroit Shock in 2003 and 2006 (both under current Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer) before she earned another ring with the Seattle Storm in 2010. The four-time All-Star believes this current Liberty squad resembles her previous title-contending teams.

"I think from other championship teams that I've been on, one thing that we always had was that chemistry on and off the court," Cash said. "We have great chemistry on our team, also the ability to defend. I think this team has the ability to defend and rebound the basketball and those are staples of winning a championship."

After the Sky host the Liberty at Allstate Arena, where Chicago is 9-2 this season, they will welcome the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday and then travel to the Garden to play the Liberty on Tuesday night.

The Liberty have lost back-to-back games only once this season, so the team has a tendency to bounce back from defeat.

"Even when we've had losses this year, we haven't hung our heads," Cash said. "We had some tough games on the West Coast where we could have just folded, but we didn't. I always joke and say we're 'New York strong' because when it gets tough we just keep grinding."

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