To hear Sandy Brondello, the Liberty qualifying for the WNBA playoffs is an accomplishment.
It is a meaningful accomplishment.
But there is still more to be done. Much more.
“We want sustainable success,” Brondello said after the Liberty’s 87-83 playoff berth-clinching win over Atlanta Sunday afternoon at Barclays Center. “This just gives us confidence as we move forward. We know there [are] areas we still need to get better in but it’s a start of a journey and hopefully it will be a long one.”
The Liberty’s journey will take them to Chicago for the best-of-three first-round series against the reigning WNBA champions. Because of their win over the Dream and coupled with the Sky’s 82-67 rout of Phoenix a few hours later, the Liberty are the seventh seed.
Their series against the second-seeded Sky begins Wednesday night at Wintrust Arena in Chicago. Game 2 is set for Saturday at noon, also in Chicago. A potential winner-take-all Game 3 would be at Barclays Center on Aug. 23.
“We could actually play three games to actually go to the next round,” said Natasha Howard, in response to a question about the WNBA changing the first-round playoff format from a single-elimination game to a best-of-three.
In order to win a playoff round for the first time since 2017, though, the Liberty would have to overcome recent history since they lost three of the four regular season matchups against Chicago this season, including both games at Wintrust Arena. The lone win occurred on July 23, an 83-80 triumph at Barclays.
In that game, Sabrina Ionescu finished with 17 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. And for the entirety of the regular-season series, Ionescu averaged 15.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists.
“She’s an incredible player,” Stefanie Dolson said about Ionescu, who was held to five points on 1-for-12 shooting by Atlanta on Sunday. “We’re a team. She knows that and we all know that.”