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New York Liberty vs. Washington Mystics WNBA playoffs keys

The New York Liberty's Essence Carson reacts after

The New York Liberty's Essence Carson reacts after missing a shot against the Washington Mystics during the third quarter of a WNBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden on Friday, Sept. 11, 2015. Photo Credit: Jason DeCrow

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.

Mystic power

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.

Defensive struggle

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.


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