New York Liberty control own destiny in playoff chase
New York coach Sandy Brondello isn’t scoreboard watching with the Liberty two games out of a playoff spot — and may not have too.
There are eight postseason berths in the WNBA and New York (10-17) is 10th in the standings heading into Tuesday night games with nine contests 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 the playoff race despite dropping seven of their last nine games.
“We control our own destiny,” Brondello said Monday after practice. “We are just going to take it 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 spot on the final day of the regular season. The Liberty close out this season with a home-and-home with the Dream, who are battling for a postseason berth themselves.
The Liberty also are in 10th in the AP WNBA power poll this week.
This week’s WNBA poll:
1. Chicago (21-7): The Sky had their six-game winning streak end in New York, but now will have Courtney Vandersloot back in the lineup after clearing concussion protocol. Her presence will give them a lift down the stretch.
2. Las Vegas (20-8): The Aces will be tested with their next five games on the road. The trip 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 the best game since signing with the Storm in a win over Atlanta. She can provide a huge lift as a third scoring option for Seattle. The 33-year-old Charles became the fourth player in league history to reach 7,000 points last week.
5. Washington (17-11): The Mystics begin a busy week with a trip to Dallas that Elena Delle Donne will most likely skip before playing consecutive home games against Seattle. She’s averaged 23.4 points the last five games.
6. Atlanta (12-16): The Dream return home for four straight games. That 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 run at the playoffs. She’s averaging 18.7 points — third most in her career.
8. Dallas (12-15): The Wings lately have gotten solid production from Teaira McCowan, who has provided an inside presence to pair with Arike Ogunbowale on the outside.
9. Phoenix (12-16): The Mercury still have no inside threat on offense that demands 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 full team together this season because of injuries and still are 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 dropped four out of their last five and are in jeopardy of missing the postseason for the first time since 2010.
12. Indiana (5-25): There have been few bright spots for the Fever in terms of wins this season, but Indiana has gotten another strong year from guard Kelsey Mitchell, who is averaging a career-best 18.6 points.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Alyssa Thomas of Connecticut was voted the 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 of their 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 contract divorce with Liz Cambage. It’s the second time this season a team has done that with a player as Phoenix and Tina Charles parted ways last month the same way.
The 30-year-old Cambage 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 at Washington, Saturday and Sunday. These two games may go a long way to figuring out who gets homecourt 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