New York was led by Jonquel Jones, who also took home Commissioner’s Cup MVP. Jones had 16 points and 15 rebounds in the championship game. Marine Johannes continued her hot shooting, scoring 17 points off the bench for the Lady Liberty.
The Liberty is one of the original founding franchises, but Tuesday marked the first time the ladies from New York won anything in the WNBA. They’ve come close a couple of times, but this season seems to be different, and the ladies have their sights on a WNBA title this season.
— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) August 16, 2023
What is the Commissioner’s Cup?
The Commissioner’s Cup is an in-season tournament that began as another way for WNBA players to earn extra income. The tournament runs through the first 10 weeks of the season, with the top team from each conference squaring off in a final, which New York won on Tuesday night.
Each New York Liberty player received an additional $30,000 to their WNBA salary, while the Aces players earning $10,000 in bonus money as the runner-up.
Can the Liberty Win the WNBA Championship?
New York is the second favorite at DraftKings NJ (+180) to win the WNBA Championship, with Las Vegas listed at the top of the betting board (-200).
New York lost to Las Vegas earlier in the season but has reeled off consecutive blowout victories over the WNBA standings leader. The Liberty can beat Las Vegas, but New York has won the last two encounters so decisively due to the injury of Aces All-Star Candace Parker.
Parker has been injured and plays a major role for the Aces on both ends of the floor. She’s missed the last two contests with New York, and the Aces have been blown out in both contests.
Las Vegas Head Coach Becky Hammon told reporters after Tuesday night’s blowout loss, “[The Liberty] started blitzing our ball handler, and we used to have a 6-5 point guard in the pocket,” said Hammon. “That makes a big difference.”
Parker had foot surgery on July 25 and doesn’t have a timetable for return, but Parker will likely not return when the playoffs begin on September 13.
Why does Parker matter to our WNBA future bet? The Aces will win the championship if Parker is on the floor because New York can’t beat Las Vegas with a healthy Parker. The Aces’ defense suffers, and the lack of an additional playmaker stymies their offense against a team with five scorers like New York boasts.
The Liberty meet Las Vegas again Thursday nightas -5.0 point favorites (Unibet NJ) at Michelob Ultra Arena. The Aces will be without Parker again Thursday, and New York should cover the -5.5, but I would wait and wager that one “in-game” as the Liberty won big hardware Tuesday night and may not be the fittest to play.
New York is finally consistently scoring buckets. Liberty forward Breanna Stewart will likely win the MVP award, and Sabrina Ionescu, Jones, and Betnijah Laney have made solid contributions on both ends of the floor. Courtney Vandersloot is dropping dimes and making plays while the bench is getting a boost from the hot shooting of Marine Johannes.
Finally, New York is also healthy and has finally hit its stride. The Liberty enter Thursday night’s regular-season matchup with Las Vegas riding a six-game winning streak and have handed the Aces two of their three losses this season. They’ll likely win again Thursday, and the likelihood that Parker will miss the postseason makes the New York Liberty +180 a good bet to win the WNBA championship.
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