Liberty have no answer for Charles
Best-of-three series opens at Mohegan Sun on Thursday (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET)
Connecticut takes its shot at a WNBA title as the best team in the Eastern Conference against an inconsistent New York squad that backed its way into the WNBA playoffs.
The Sun -- who, at 25-9, won their most regular-season games since 26 victories in 2005 and 2006 -- have great inside-outside play and are now at full strength with the return of Asjha Jones to the lineup. The 6-foot-3 forward, a member of Team USA in the London Olympics, missed 14 games with a strained Achilles tendon after the Olympic break.
New York (15-19), the last team to clinch a playoff spot, closed a disappointing regular season Saturday with a win over Tulsa. The Liberty's 9-8 record at home doesn't inspire confidence.
Key to the series
Defending Tina Charles: New York has star power in guard Cappie Pondexter (third in the league in scoring with 20.4 ppg), but the Liberty don't have as much talent in the post to counter MVP candidate Charles.
Connecticut wins if the Sun can continue to pair the superior inside play of Charles -- who set the league record for single-season rebounding (345) in 2012 -- with the perimeter shooting of Kara Lawson -- who set the franchise record with 74 3-pointers this season.
New York wins if Pondexter gets a big supporting performance from somebody like veteran Nicole Powell, who had some big games in the final week of the season.
Michelle Smith: Sun in three games. New York has been too inconsistent this season to beat a complete Sun squad in a short series.
Mechelle Voepel: Sun in two games. Connecticut, which won the season series 4-1, is competing well going into the playoffs and is helped by having Asjha Jones back for however long she can play, even if she's not 100 percent.
PLAYOFF SCHEDULE: (1) SUN VS. (4) LIBERTY
Date Matchup Tip (TV) Thursday, Sept. 27 Game 1: New York at Connecticut 8 p.m. (ESPN2) Saturday, Sept. 29 Game 2: Connecticut at New York 7 p.m. (NBA TV) Monday, Oct. 1 Game 3*: New York at Connecticut 7 p.m. (NBA TV) * If necessary
Date Recap Notable May 19 Connecticut 78, at New York 73 Tina Charles, one of four Sun players in double figures, had 19 points and 13 rebounds May 20 At Connecticut 92, New York 77 Tina Charles tallied 25 points and 11 boards, while Asjha Jones added 20 points and 8 rebounds June 15 At Connecticut 97, New York 55 The Liberty suffered their worst loss in franchise history, while the Sun's 61-27 edge set the league mark for largest halftime lead Aug. 16 At New York 79, Connecticut 66 Cappie Pondexter tallied 24 points, 5 assists and 5 steals Aug. 18 At Connecticut 85, New York 74 After just 4 points in the loss two days earlier, Tina Charles played the entire first half and ended with 23 points and 9 boards
MORE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL HEADLINES
- No. 2 ND routs No. 10 Duke, earns ACC title
- Lady Vols knock off UK in SEC tourney final
- USC holds off Oregon St. for 1st Pac-12 title
- Nebraska wins 1st Big Ten tournament title
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
WNBA FINALS COVERAGE