A lot can happen in three day's time when your team is preparing to battle the defending Eastern Conference champions in the first round of the 2012 playoffs. But as it stands right now, head coach Lin Dunn's Indiana Fever have to game plan to play without two of their spark plug starters in Briann January and Shavonte Zellous.
"Today is Tuesday and [Briann January and Shavonte Zellous] have still not practiced with us yet," Dunn said of the duo. "We are optimistic that they will be able to practice on Thursday, but it's moment to moment. There are certain things that they have to do in order to get to the point to be released. They did do some cardio today, they did shoot some but so far they've not been able to do any contact. We're just crossing our fingers and saying that sometime on Thursday they're going to get released and get to practice."
Both women were injured in separate instances in the same game and have been benched with concussion symptoms. Their absence bites into the Fever's game plan. January has averaged 10.3 points and 3.9 assists a game this season with the slashing Zellous adding 7.5 points and 2.7 rebounds a night.
"I think we have to be prepared to play with Bri and Z, and we also have to be prepared to play without them," Dunn remarked. "Even if they are released at the last moment they will have been out an awful long time. So just being prepared to go with whoever's healthy."
Since the two have been out, Indiana finished the regular season with a 73-67 loss at Connecticut, a 66-53 win against Washington and a 91-58 drubbing of Tulsa. In those games, players like Jeanette Pohlen, Erin Phillips and Erlana Larkins have had the opportunity to step up to the plate, contributing big numbers and big minutes.
"I think that's the good news," Dunn said. "We always say one person's problems is another person's opportunity, and obviously Pohlen, Phillips and Larkin benefitted from Bri and Z being out."
Phillips has played approximately 113 of the 120 game minutes since the loss to the Lynx, scoring 19 and 21 points in their last two contests. Contrast that to her three points in 16 minutes off the bench on Sept. 14 and you can see just how important this closing trio have games has been for the fourth-year Aussie guard in her second season with Indiana.
The Fever begin their series with Atlanta - who knocked them out of last year's playoffs - at home on Friday at 7 p.m.