How and who to watch in the home opener

If anyone had the right to be sick of Caitlin Clark coverage, it would probably be the New York Liberty.

New York has an early Clark appearance on its schedule, facing the touted top pick of the 2024 WNBA Draft in three of its first nine games. The middle portion of that stretch comes Saturday afternoon when the Liberty play their home opener against Clark's Indiana Fever deny.

The Liberty won their first meeting with Clark handily and pulled away with a dominant second half, resulting in a 102-66 victory. Jonquel Jons and Breanna Stewart each recorded a double-double. The latter recovered from a slow start in Tuesday's opener in Washington to lead the team in points. Indiana had to survive with poor double-digit performances from Aliyah Boston and Katie Lou Samuelson, while Clark was held to nine points on 2 of 8 shooting thanks to stellar defense from Betnijah Laney-Hamilton, who also scored 14 points.

What: Indiana Fever (0-2) @ New York Liberty (2-0)

Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY

When/Watch: Saturday, 1 p.m. ET, ABC

Who will be preferred: NYL -5.5

Keep an eye on: Sabrina Ionescu

The recent Liberty efforts have produced outside shooting that would make even the Villanova and Golden State champions blush, although head coach Sandy Brondello has often expressed a desire to see her team expand beyond that identity. With the Liberty surprisingly struggling in the early going, Ionescu rose to the challenge and increased her impact by taking advantage of the chemistry with her fellow All-Stars. If Ionescu completes this aspect of her game, she can truly commit to the takeover task and complete what may be the final phase of her professional metamorphosis.

Feve to watch: Katie Lou Samuelson

After being sidelined in 2023 due to pregnancy, Samuelson was back on the floor and getting back into the game with attempts from deep. He's shot 3 of 4 so far, including 2 of 2 in Thursday's loss. Jones, Stewart and even the relief efforts of Nyara Sabally kept the Fever's interior game (led by Boston and NaLyssa Smith) largely under control on Thursday. If they're looking for an experienced perimeter pick-me-up, Samulson could be called upon for expanded duties as early as their third game back.

You said it

“I'm excited to see what she can accomplish, being able to see her do what she did in college and now compete against her… Coming back for my first season as a player, it was me.” Finding your way, being number 1, having that goal behind you and also not being healthy and trying to come back. It's just hard to fight adversity and I think that's part of everyone's journey. To weather that storm and discover what makes you one, they'll be able to learn and grow. It's times like these where you find out what you're really made of and how you can continue to improve as a teammate, basketball player and person.” – Sabrina Ionescu on Caitlin Clark


Clark will inevitably make it, as will the rest of the Fever's raw but hopeful talents. But the Liberty have their own message to make: They've done this effectively after a shaky start in the nation's capital, but now have a three-game homestand that has their loyal, extended fan base in turmoil. Considering the way New York patrolled the courtside in the early going, they should be able to get revenge on their former NBA siblings and defeat Indiana.

Freedom 99, fever 87

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Anna Harden

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