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Payback? Fever look to avenge 1st-round playoff loss

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The Indiana Fever and Phoenix Mercury enter tonight’s contest looking for its first win in 2017.

WNBA: Finals-Indiana Fever at Minnesota Lynx Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix, AZ — The Indiana Fever head west to Phoenix, Arizona to face Britney Griner, Diana Taurasi and the Phoenix Mercury.

The Fever look to avenge the first-round loss to the Mercury in last season’s WNBA Playoffs.

Last Time Out

The Indiana Fever dropped its first game of the 2017 season falling to Breanna Stewart and her Seattle Storm, 87-82.

Fever head coach Pokey Chatman was not thrilled that her team committed 27 fouls, allowing the Storm to get to the line to hit 24-of-27, an 11-point advantage.

"We need to learn to be more disciplined on the defensive end," Chatman told WNBA.com. "We need to continue being disruptive on defense, but we have to be more disciplined."

In a tightly contested game, the Storm and the Fever battled for the lead. The Fever won the first period, narrowly outscoring the Storm, 22 - 21. But, Seattle countered with a 16 - 12 advantage in the second period. At the half, the Storm led, 37 - 34. Seattle continued its streak in the third period, outscoring Indiana, 22 - 18. But, the Fever closed out the contest behind a monster fourth period, 30 - 28.

Unfortunately, Indiana’s last ditch effort was not enough to give the Fever a W.

On the night, the Indiana Fever shot 44% from the field, connecting on 30 shots, and 53% from beyond the arc, firing off 9 triples.

The Fever also forced 20 Seattle turnovers.

Behind Jewell Loyd’s 27 points, the Storm shot 48% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc.

The Fever had three players notch double-figures: Shenise Johnson collected a career-high 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field, including 3 triples. Johnson added 8 rebounds and 3 steals to her stat line. Briann January picked up 23 points on 57% shooting from the field. January added 4 three-pointers and 3 assists. Tiffany Mitchell rounded out Indiana’s top scorers as she tallied 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting.

However, the rest of the squad struggled, only adding 18 points for the Fever.

For the Storm, four players grabbed double-digits: Jewell Loyd picked up a game-high 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting. Loyd added 7 boards and 3 assists. Crystal Langhorne added 17 points and 6 rebounds, while Breanna Stewart collected 15 points and 7 boards. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis racked up 12 points, 6 of which came from the charity stripe.

Meet the Mercury

The Phoenix Mercury only returned two players from its 2016 roster; Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi.

In its season opener, the Phoenix Mercury fell to the Dallas Wings, 68-58.

The Mercury, led by Griner, came out hot behind a 10-1 run. Griner was instrumental for Phoenix in the first quarter grabbing 9 points.

However, the Wings battled back, but the score remained close the remainder of the contest. The Wings were able to pull ahead in the fourth period to seal the deal.

Diana Taurasi was rendered ineffective grabbing only 3 points on a made 3-pointer.

The Mercury only had two players notch double-digits: Brittney Griner picked up where she left off in the 2016 season. The center picked up a team-best 18 points on 54% shooting. Camille Little added 11 points and 4 steals.

Collectively, the Mercury connected on 43% from the field, but struggled at the charity stripe going 8-of-15.

Diana Taurasi

Diana Taurasi is coming off of an exciting week. The seven-time All-Star inked a multi-year contract extension with the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday. But, perhaps the bigger news came as Taurasi announced some fantastic news from her personal life; Taurasi married former teammate Penny Taylor.

Aside from her marriage and contract extension, Taurasi is on track to pass serious career milestones. The 34-year old is 175 points shy of becoming the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, 6 three-pointers away from becoming the leagues all-time leader in made triples and 2 rebounds shy of becoming the first player in WNBA history with 7,000 career points, 1,500 career assists and 1,500 career rebounds.

Series Quick Notes

The Indiana Fever won the 2016 regular season series, 2 - 1, but the Phoenix Mercury knocked the Fever out of the WNBA Playoffs in a single-elimination win.

Indiana and Phoenix are 5-5 against one another in the last 10 regular season contests. However, the Fever own the overall series, 20-12.

The Fever will face the Mercury two more times this season; at Indiana on June 7th and at Phoenix on July 19th.

Power Rankings (Week 1)

In Brian Martin’s weekly WNBA Power Rankings the Indiana Fever came in at 9th and the Phoenix Mercury at 7th.

Tip Off

The Indiana Fever and Phoenix Mercury tip off at 10PM.