Douglas' Return Uncertain for Game 3

By Tom Rietmann

INDIANAPOLIS -- If Indiana Fever guard Katie Douglas could simply tape up her injured left ankle and be ready to play, she would do it in an instant.

“I wish we could put three or four layers on and be OK,” Douglas said Thursday. “(But) they're not going to put me out there and let me be a hindrance to my team or to myself. I've got to pass a series of tests. And until I can pass those tests, I'm probably not going to be on the court.”

Indeed, whether Douglas' next game for the Fever is Friday night remains uncertain. That's when Indiana and the Minnesota Lynx will play Game 3 of the best-of-five WNBA Finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The series is knotted at 1-1 after two games in Minneapolis.

Douglas, who suffered a sprained ankle in Indiana's Game 3 victory at Connecticut in the Eastern Conference finals, didn't accompany the Fever to Minneapolis. She returned to Indianapolis, where she's been undergoing treatments every day. She showed up for Thursday's media session at the Fieldhouse wearing a protective boot.

Douglas, averaging 15.5 points in the 2012 playoffs before her injury, said she still has some discomfort. She has done some shooting while wearing the boot, noting that her shot feels in form.

However, Douglas added that playing against the Lynx will require she be at a level “where I can compete.”

“Unfortunately, I don't have Mother Nature's number to call her to quick-fix this thing,” Douglas said. “I'm just trying to do everything I can to put myself in a position, if possible, to be ready to go at some point in the series.”

Coach Lin Dunn emphasized that the decision whether to play Douglas in Friday's game -- or any other game in the series -- won't be made lightly. The team will do nothing to jeopardize the veteran's long-term health.

“We're not going to play Katie unless she can play at a high level,” said Dunn, whose team returned to Indy on an early flight Thursday morning. “This (series) is too intense, uptempo, physical to risk putting her out there unless we know she can play at a high level.”

The physical play that prevailed in Game 2 was the overriding theme of media questions during Thursday's session. Minnesota evened the series with an 83-71 victory on Wednesday night, topping the Fever with a 24-3 bulge in second-chance points and a 32-20 lead in rebounds. The game's officials allowed both teams to perform with uncompromising ruggedness.

“It was just an unbelievably physical game, on both ends of the court,” Dunn said. “It's unfortunate it got to that point. I thought there was a time there where it should have been cleaned up on both ends of the floor. It just got too physical.”

If that style continues to mark the series, Indiana will likely have to deal with it minus guard Jeanette Pohlen, who suffered a knee injury in Game 2. She was undergoing tests after the team returned on Thursday.

“The information I got back (Wednesday night) was not good,” Dunn said about Pohlen's status.

Karima Christmas is expected to pick up extra playing time if Pohlen is out.

“It's tough,” Dunn said about battling the Lynx with a short-handed roster. “But that's what competition is all about. You're going to be thrown some curves and you're going to be thrown some adversity. You figure out a way to deal with it.”

Indiana's players said they weren't surprised by Minnesota's relentless and tough nature in Game 2. The Fever expected high intensity from the defending WNBA champions, especially after Indiana stunned the Lynx with a 76-70 victory in Game 1.

“They came out on their home court. They knew they had to win (Game 2),” Fever forward Tamika Catchings said.

Indiana will be prepared for more of the same toughness in Game 3.

“Come Friday,” said Indiana guard Erin Phillips, “it's going to be another huge opportunity for us to match their physicality.”

A capacity crowd is expected in the Fieldhouse for Game 3. Indiana Pacers Coach Frank Vogel and three Pacers players -- George Hill, Paul George and Danny Granger -- combined to purchase 4,000 balcony tickets on Thursday for a giveaway to fans.

“It's going to be electric an awesome environment,” Douglas said about Friday's game.