"Fever win first playoff round
Before Tamika Catchings hurt her left foot late in the season, the Indiana Fever’s offense was sometimes predictable: Give the ball to Catchings; hope she can score.
When the forward went down with a torn plantar fascia, the Fever players had to make up for her 16.5 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals a game average during the last 13 games of the season.
As guard Anna DeForge said after the Fever’s victory in the second game of the opening round series against the Connecticut Sun, players simply had to step up.
Even though the Fever’s record slipped from 16-4 to 21-18 without Catchings playing, her teammates became more comfortable shooting the ball and not relying on one player for offense, which is rolling over into post-season play, Catchings said.
“It used to be, ‘Let’s give Catch the ball and watch her shoot,’” Catchings said. “People are becoming confident to shoot now. It’s what we need.”
The Fever closed out the first round of the playoffs with a 93-88 overtime win over the Sun Monday night, which marked the largest comeback in WNBA playoff history. The Fever were down by 22 points in the second quarter and used a fourth quarter scoring surge to erase the deficit from the first half. Indiana outscored Connecticut 45-33 in the fourth quarter and overtime period to win 93-88.
DeForge scored 31 points in a triple-overtime loss Friday night at Connecticut, but she kept her shooting touch alive in the second game, scoring 26 points. She added 18 in the final game victory.
DeForge’s play, as well as forward Sheri Sam’s 14 points and seven rebounds, freed defenders from Catchings in the decisive game three overtime win and gave fans an indication of what future playoff games could look like if the Fever’s offense stays balanced with multiple scoring threats.
Catchings drove to the basket at will, either converting on layups or getting fouled. She scored 30 points and hauled down 13 rebounds in the win. She brought down 46 rebounds in the three-game series against the Sun.
The new look to the Fever’s offense is also more enjoyable for Catchings, she said.
“We’re on that adrenaline rush, and we don’t have time to be tired. [A championship] is what we play for,” Catchings said.
Results from the New York/Detroit game Tuesday night were not available at press time. If the Shock won, the Fever will host the first game of the series at Conseco Fieldhouse Friday. If the Liberty won, the Fever will host games two and three at home.