Atlanta, GA — For the first time this season, the Indiana Fever stepped into McCamish Pavilion, the Atlanta Dream’s new home court. Those steps came with an intention to repeat the victory they had against Atlanta earlier this season. Those same steps left the pavilion with the disappointment of not filling that intention after falling 89-68 to the Dream.
When discussing basketball strategy, almost anyone will tell you that it comes down to the fundamentals. The most basic of those winning fundamentals is scoring, something the Fever struggled to do early in the evening.
To begin what would be a low-scoring game for the visitors, Indiana fell behind the Dream only three minutes into the game, shooting 30 percent in the first quarter.
Progressing into the game, weak defense proved to be the downfall for Indiana tonight. The Fever wrestled to break an Atlanta defense that smoothly transitioned between a man and zone defense throughout the game. They were of no avail though.
“Defensively, Atlanta is a team that averages around 70 points a game and they scored 89. They turned us over. If we don’t defend, we won’t win. Sometimes it’s the scheme or mindset, grit or being a little more fierce. Until we consistently do that, then we won’t have success,” Indiana head coach Pokey Chatman said.
For someone accustomed to watching Indiana basketball, the Fever just didn’t seem to be themselves tonight. The game seemed to lack the usual passion and energy seen from the Fever. That, mixed in with a spectacular performance by an Atlanta team that shot nearly 60 percent from the field going into halftime, led to the team’s second downfall of the evening: lack of communication.
“We just have to communicate a lot more on defense. We need to figure out our defensive schemes and how to play certain things. It’s frustrating but we have to regroup and focus on the next game,” Indiana’s Erica McCall said.
After trailing for the majority of the game, the Fever fell 20 points behind Atlanta with eight minutes remaining in the game. Indiana had increased their shooting percentage from 30 to 40.3 percent, grabbed 26 rebounds and put up one block, but it was no match for the Dream’s 53.2 percent average, 35 rebounds, and eight blocks.
Indiana’s Shenise Johnson put up 15 points in tonight’s game, but says putting up points should not be what her team is focusing on.
“It’s not about offense. It has nothing to do with 15 points or how many shots you make or miss. We have to find a way to play defense collectively as a unit. There are people who are getting career highs on us night in and night out. It’s nothing that the coaches are doing. It’s all up to us,” Johnson said.
The Fever will travel back home to take on the San Antonio Stars on Wednesday at 12 p.m ET.