The New York Liberty don’t get this far all too often.
With a 90-85 overtime victory over the Washington Mystics, the Liberty are through to the WNBA playoff semifinals for the first time in eight seasons, which was also the last time they had won a playoff series.
“It means a lot. I don’t know if we’re thinking about getting this team back to somewhere the Liberty haven’t been in eight years,” Breanna Stewart, who dropped 27 points in the Game 2 clincher, said. “Today there were highs and lows. We knew it was going to be emotional. D.C. was going to go out swinging. We stayed the course. We didn’t stop playing until the final buzzer.”
New York has never won a WNBA championship despite being a blue-chip organization of the league. It had made the WNBA Finals in four of the league’s first six years of existence from 1997-2002. In the ensuing 20 seasons from 2003-2022, they made the conference semifinals just four times.
With Sabrina Ionescu taking her next step toward superstardom and the acquisitions of 2021 WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones and Stewart — a former MVP and two-time league champion herself — during the offseason, the Liberty were primed to take a major step forward under second-year head coach Sandy Brondello after going 16-20 last year.
They posted their best record in franchise history, going 32-8, finishing first in the Eastern Conference, and second overall in the WNBA behind the powerhouse Las Vegas Aces.
The WNBA semifinals begin on Sunday where they’ll play the winner of either the No. 3 Connecticut Sun and No. 6 Minnesota Lynx, which is decided on Wednesday night.
“From the beginning of our whole journey, I had a feeling that this team is special and we’d be able to do a lot of special things,” Jones said. “I’m a very step-by-step person… and preparing for our next matchup. But I understand that if we play the way we’re supposed to play and do what we’re supposed to do, our chances are very high. Having that mindset every time we’re on the court is going to be important and make sure we don’t get too far ahead of ourselves.”