New York City, NY - To paraphrase former singer of note, Meatloaf, ‘two out of three ain't bad'. Not when it is the last two to send your team to another round. For the second straight series. The Indiana Fever fought back from an opening game loss to take the series. They defeated the New York Liberty 66-51 in the third and deciding game of the Eastern Conference finals at Madison Square Garden. The numbers of note.....
Possessions: Indiana 69, New York 73
Offensive efficiency: Indiana 96, New York 70
eFG percentage: Indiana 54, New York 37
FT rate: Indiana 21, New York 13
OREB percentage: Indiana 12, New York 39
TO rate: Indiana 20, New York 29
What the Fever did well....Shoot. The 54% eFG mark was highlighted by 5 of 11 (46%) from downtown. Marissa Coleman knocked down all five treys for the Fever. She hit three big ones early in the third quarter. Her final three-pointer came with 1:46 to go giving the Fever a 66-49 lead and essentially bringing the Liberty season to a close.
What New York did well...rebound. They missed a number of close in shots but worked hard enough to get second, and sometimes third chances. They dominated OREB percentage and in raw numbers had a 15-3 edge in offensive boards.
There was one tie and four lead changes. The Liberty battled back from an 18 point deficit to close within four with eight-plus minutes remaining in the third period. At that point, the Fever went on a 10-0 run and were never threatened again.
Most disturbing of the high TO rate and 21 miscues leading to 18 Indiana points was "most of those turnovers were unforced errors. Our mistakes," per Laimbeer.
Laimbeer feels the defense of the Liberty was good enough for a win. Despite the eFG over 50%, the offensive efficiency under the century mark proves him right. The problem is 70 may be a passing grade on a test but not for an offense. If you are hoping to win.
Laimbeer also pointed out the Fever had several ‘attack the basket' players in their lineup. The difference in free throw rates (FT rate) is a good indication. Getting to the basket can get you on the line.
The scoring/efficiency leaders:
Indiana: Marissa Coleman 15 points (14 eff,), Tamika Catchings 14 points (14 eff), Erlana Larkins 12 points (21 eff).
Larkins was game high in efficiency. She committed five turnovers but did have a team-high 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Her inside work drew praise from Indiana coach Stephanie White as vital to the Fever post season success.
New York: Candace Wiggins 15 points (12 eff). Tina Charles 13 points (8 eff). Wiggins was the lone Liberty player to hit 50% (3 of 6) from three. Charles' efficiency was hampered by a 6 of 16 shooting performance and 5 TOs. Charles did set the pace with a game-high 10 boards.
"We are disappointed. It was unfortunate. We started the season to compete for a championship. We did compete but not in the finals. This season was about establishing a body of work. It hurts tonight, will hurt tomorrow and the next few weeks, but I'll take this season any day." - NY Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer
"All season long our group overcame adversity. They just put it all out there for one another. Not the prettiest games, a real battle....this team is just a joy to coach." - Indiana coach Stephanie White