On an historic day for Indiana basketball, what happened to the Indiana Fever?
Phoenix's Big Second Half Denies Fever WNBA Championship, Forces Game Five - WXIN
INDIANAPOLIS - The sellout crowd. The community attention. The freshly accumulated momentum. The coming of age of a collection of WNBA veterans. The stars and the full moon were aligned Wednesday night in Indianapolis for the Indiana Fever to end Indianapolis' 36 year professional basketball championship drought, up two games to one with Game Four on their home floor and with a raucous Conseco Fieldhouse crowd behind them. But the Mercury weren't ready to let the sun set just yet, especially their biggest stars.
Phoenix Stan described how the key adjustment that the Phoenix Mercury made that led to them winning last night's Game 4 against the Fever was probably their spacing.
One result of the Mercury's spacing is improved scoring opportunities. Whether it be open looks or just hot shooting, three point shooting might have been a big difference in the game.
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In a considerable upset, the Fever actually outscored the Mercury from beyond the arc in the first three games of this series, making 24 triples to Phoenix’s 23. Tonight saw the Mercury find its perimeter stroke, making 10 three-pointers – four of them by Tangela Smith, the WNBA’s leader in three-point accuracy during the regular season. Meanwhile, Indiana had a night to forget in terms of long-distance shooting. The biggest culprit was Katie Douglas, who was 1-of-7 from beyond the arc, but the whole team contributed to a dismal 2-for-18 effort. While the Fever was unlikely to continue its lights-out shooting from early in this series, the 11.1 percent accuracy was a season low.
In fact, it was one of Douglas' worst games of the season.
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Douglas, averaging a team-high 17.1 points in the playoffs, had her worst game of the postseason and one of her worst of the year. Trying to help her hometown team to a title, the former Perry Meridian High School and Purdue University star scored just seven points. It was her second fewest points of the season, better only than a two-point effort on 1-for-8 shooting in an 84-65 road loss at San Antonio on July 23. "I'll have to kind of look at it, but at this point, you can't look too deep into it," Douglas said. "You have to be ready in about 48 hours in Phoenix.
Unfortunately, the Fever didn't get a whole lot of support from their bench either.
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She wasn't the only Fever player who reminded us that the Fever were, in fact, the worst shooting team in the WNBA this season. Rookie Briann January, who has been so good so far in this postseason, had a 1-of-9 night. Tammy Sutton-Brown was 5-of-10 in the game, but missed some close shots at crucial times. The Fever shot just 41 percent in this game, and worse, hit just 2-of-18 3-pointers. That's a hard way to win. Impossible, really.
Nevertheless, the Fever remain confident heading into Game 5.
It might not just have been cold shooting, but the inability to create other scoring opportunities when perimeter shots weren't falling.
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"The thing about it is, we know we can hit those shots," Catchings said. "If you're not hitting, you've got to get to the basket, try to create something for your teammates or try to do something better. "I think that's where we didn't do a good job."
Despite the loss, it is the hope of Fever players and staff that the fans had a memorable experience in Conseco this season.
Fans enjoy atmosphere, not result | IndyStar.com | The Indianapolis Star
Despite the loss, this game was what fans had been awaiting. Fans say the Fever capture the spirit of the game that means so much to so many Hoosiers. "The team chemistry is obvious this year," said Sally McCracken, 49, Indianapolis. "It seems like instinctively they know where each other is going to be. It's been fun to watch." McCracken, a season ticket-holder for 10 years, said she was thrilled to be part of the raucous sellout crowd that filled the seats Sunday when the Fever downed the Mercury 86-85.
With new fans paying attention every game, the series has got to be considered some kind of success for the WNBA.
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7:54 KDonhoops: Also, Conseco is incredibly loud right now. Sold-out, and as loud as any NBA game I've ever been to.
7:54 KDonhoops: This place is packed. I'm looking at the last row, and it's packed.
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There's still room for a title run, however, as the fifth and deciding game of the series will take place this Friday in Phoenix. If Indiana wants to make a game of it, the team will need Briann January to look more like the star-in-training that came through on Sunday during Game 3 (17 points in eight shots off the bench) than the nervous rookie that played on Wednesday night, finishing with eight points on nine attempts from the field. And Katie Douglas can't have anything near resembling the 2-14 night from the floor that she came through with in Game 4. Then again, the Fever haven't had much answer for Pondexter, who is averaging 20 points per game in this series, and it's unlikely that Diana Taurasi will have as quiet a game at home in Phoenix, with the season on the line. Game 5 figures to be a battle. And a winner-take-all, deciding Game 5 seems a fitting end for this closely-contested series.