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The New York Liberty ended their mini two-game losing streak on Wednesday night with a 81-78 win over the Phoenix Mercury. As the final score indicates, it was a hard-fought affair, and the Liberty needed to make a fourth-quarter comeback to get the job done. 

That was because their offense was once again absent for much of the game. They started out hot, but scored just 48 points in the final three quarters. Notably, they made just three 3s during that stretch and finished the game 9 of 32 from behind the arc. 

After yet another poor shooting performance, it's worth looking into what's happening with the Liberty's 3-point attack. In 2023, the Liberty set all sorts of 3-point records, including the most makes per game (11.1) and total makes (444) in a season, and New York led the league in percentage (37.4). But through the first two weeks this season, they've been one of the worst shooting teams. 

Here's a look at the per game numbers. League rank in parenthesis:



11.1 (1st)

29.7 (1st)

37.4 (1st)


8.3 (t-5th)

27.6 (3rd)

30.1 (11th)

Missing open shots

One of the most basic reasons for the Liberty's 3-point problems this season is they are creating and making fewer open shots. They took 13.3 unguarded 3s per game last season, and converted 41.5% of them per Synergy Sports. This time around, they're at 9.9 unguarded 3s per game and are making 34.8% of them. With the offensive talent the Liberty have, you'd expect these shots to start going in at a higher rate eventually. 

Ionescu has fallen off a cliff

Sabrina Ionescu's performances in the 3-Point Contest and the special event versus Steph Curry at NBA All-Star Weekend overshadowed how good of a shooter she was in the 2023 regular season. Her 128 3s set a single-season record, and she finished third in the league at 44.8%. 

Over the Liberty's first seven games of 2024, she's shooting 30.2% from downtown. While a dip from arguably the greatest 3-point season the league has ever seen is understandable, this is the worst Ionescu has shot in her career, even dating back to her days at Oregon. 

She's been much worse on both catch-and-shoot and off-the-dribble chances, but aside from some attempts perhaps looking a bit rushed, there's not much of an explanation. There are a lot of open looks that she's just missing. 

Lack of shooting depth

During the winter, the Liberty lost two key pieces of last season's team that reached the WNBA Finals. Marine Johannes announced that she would stay overseas to prepare for the 2024 Olympics in her native France, and Stefanie Dolson signed with the Washington Mystics in free agency. 

Johannes (36.8% on 4.3 attempts per game), of course, was one of the most exciting players in the league and a serious 3-point threat who could go off at any moment. Dolson (46.2% on 1.0 attempt per game), though not a high-volume shooter, was extremely efficient and had to be respected. 

Neither has been replaced. Free agent signing Ivana Dojkic has shot it well (42.9%) but she barely plays, rookie Leonie Fiebich has been poor (30.8%) and Nyara Sabally, who has stepped into a bigger role this season, does not take 3s. Opponents do not have to worry about as many shooters this season when playing the Liberty, and that is making a big difference.