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Jun 24, 2024 3:27 pm

All about the money: Liberty, Lynx battle in Commissioner’s Cup

napheesa collier

The WNBA’s in-season tournament, the Commissioner’s Cup, will crown its champion on Tuesday night when the New York Liberty host the Minnesota Lynx.

However, because of conflicts with the upcoming NBA Draft being hosted at the Liberty’s home arena — the Barclays Center in Brooklyn — the game will instead be played at UBS Arena, home of the NHL’s New York Islanders, at nearby Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. The NBA Draft begins Wednesday and requires an extra night of preparation.

“It sucks that we play at UBS. I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” Liberty forward Jonquel Jones said. “We want to be able to play here at Barclays with our home crowd and everything. But ultimately, it’s still New York.”

The Liberty (15-3) are the defending champs of the Commissioner’s Cup and earned the right to host by going 5-0 against Eastern Conference opponents between June 1 and 13. In that same stretch, the Lynx (13-3) went 4-1 against Western teams.

Up for grabs is a $500,000 prize pool to be distributed amongst the winning team. For players in a league whose highest-paid players are Las Vegas’ Jackie Young ($252,420), Seattle’s Jewell Loyd ($245,508), Phoenix’s Kahleah Copper ($245,509) and Dallas’ Arike Ogunbowale ($241,984), that cash is a big deal.

“I need that win and I need that money,” Minnesota Lynx guard Natisha Hiedeman said last week. “It’s all about the money.”

Despite not being able to play the game in their usual home arena, the Liberty are favored to win by five points, according to the line DraftKings set Monday afternoon. New York has been on a roll lately, winning three straight games and nine of their last 10. Breanna Stewart is fifth in the league in scoring with 19.7 points per game, while Sabrina Ionescu is third in assists with 6.7 per contest.

Most recently, the Liberty won on the road against the Atlanta Dream on Sunday, 96-75. The day before, Stewart became the first player in WNBA history to record at least 20 points, five blocks and five assists in a single half en route to scoring 33 points in the Liberty’s 98-88 win over the Los Angeles Sparks.

The Lynx have been hot, too, winning six straight games and also nine of their last 10. Minnesota beat the Phoenix Mercury at home on Saturday 73-60 behind 23 points and 14 rebounds from Napheesa Collier. Notably, the Lynx outrebounded the Mercury 44-31.

“We want to go really far this season, and to do that, we know that rebounding has to be a habit because it’s going to kill us in the long run,” Collier said. “So, I think we were just really intentional about blocking out.”

The Lynx and Liberty last played on May 25 in Minnesota, which saw the Lynx take an 84-67 win behind 15 points and 12 boards from Collier.

This game will feature four women who will be part of the U.S. national team this summer at the Olympics, with Collier, Stewart and Ionescu playing, and Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve coaching the team in Paris, France.

–Field Level Media

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