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Sunday, September 23, 2012
Updated: September 27, 10:33 AM ET
Liberty have no answer for Charles

By Michelle Smith
espnW

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.

Bottom line

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.

Who wins?

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.