Indianapolis, Indiana — Expect the unexpected. The quote dates back to as early as 475 BC when Greek philosopher Heraclitus warns that if you do not expect the unexpected, it’ll find you.
And that’s just what happened to New York on Thursday against Indiana.
The Liberty had won two of the three previous matchups against the Fever this season. On June 3, New York demolished Indiana by 32 points. However, the tables were turned today. The Fever had the 21-point edge at the end of Thursday’s game.
The team New York faced today was not the Indiana team it faced in June, nor was it the team that faced the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday, Aug. 30 and the Washington Mystics on Saturday, Aug. 27. This time, the Fever was the team in control the entire game. Right from the start, Fever guard Marisa Coleman threw down a quick seven points to help pull Indiana ahead 10-3.
Because New York’s defense honed in on Fever forward Tamika Catchings and guard Erica Wheeler, Fever guards Shenise Johnson, and Coleman were left open around the arc to help boost the momentum for Indiana.
Johnson and Coleman are an integral part in Indiana’s offense, however, their role isn’t necessarily the go-to shooters. Indiana relies heavily on the entire team to carry its offense, but Catchings, Tiffany Mitchell and Briann January are the primary scorers on the team, all averaging above nine points per game.
Johnson and Coleman, however, have strong handles and ball control. They excel at ball movement and averaged roughly two assists per game.
Against the Liberty, Johnson and Coleman scored a combined total 40 points — 30 of which were in the first half. The two veteran’s productivity in the first half put the Fever in a comfortable position for the rest of the game. Indiana beat down New York 98-77, making it the most points the Fever have scored in a game this season.
Johnson ended the game with a team-high 21 points, shooting 60 percent from the field and going 3-5 from behind the arc. While Coleman finished with 19 points, shooting 55 percent from the field and went 4-7 from the line.
While the two guards average 20 minutes per game, they are not two of Indiana’s main scorers. Johnson has averaged eight points a game in 22 games and Coleman averages just over seven points. The two guards’ success proves that there is a lot more depth in Indiana’s offense for its opponents to fear.
It also shows that Indiana is in the running for a playoff spot. After Thursday’s win, Indiana sits as the sixth seed, and if the playoffs were tomorrow, the Fever would have a spot.
This season, the WNBA will have the top eight seeds play in postseason play, as compared to previous seasons when the top four teams from the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference advanced to playoffs.
The Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx, and the New York Liberty have already clinched their playoff spots, leaving only five spots, which remain questionable.
There are only seven games left in the Fever’s season before playoffs begin. Indiana is now on the road for a two-game trip. The Fever will face-off against Los Angeles on Sunday, September 4th at 7 p.m. ET. Then, Indiana will battle San Antonio on Tuesday, September 6th at 8 p.m. ET.