#Fever15 Moments: 2009 WNBA Finals vs PhoenixTweet
The Dates: September 29 - October 9, 2009
The Fever's first WNBA Finals appearance wound up being one of the most memorable championship series in league history.
After beating their old nemesis Detroit in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals, the Fever advanced to the WNBA Finals to face off against the Phoenix Mercury. The Mercury, who had defeated Detroit in the 2007 Finals, were led by league MVP Diana Taurasi and All-Star Cappie Pondexter.
The first two games of the series took place in Phoenix. Game 1 was an unprecedented offensive showcase.
Both teams burst out of the gates, with each side scoring 31 points in the first quarter. They hardly slowed down the rest of the night. The Fever led by eight heading into the fourth quarter, but Phoenix stormed back to take a four-point lead with 2:30 to play. Indiana tied the game on Briann January's layup with 48 seconds remaining and then again on Katie Douglas' 3-pointer with 7.1 seconds remaining, which sent the game into overtime tied at 105.
In the extra session, there were three ties and eight lead changes, but the Mercury held the Fever scoreless over the final 1:40 to come away with a 120-116 win. The game set a number of records. It was the highest-scoring game in WNBA history, with both teams surpassing the previous mark for most points by a single team. The two teams combined to make 22 3-pointers.
In the loss, Douglas scored a game-high 30 points, while Ebony Hoffman added a career-best 27 points on 12-for-14 shooting.
The Fever would get revenge in Game 2, thanks to another sensational performance by Tamika Catchings. The Fever star finished just one rebound shy of a triple-double in leading Indiana to a 93-84 victory. Catchings led six Fever players in double figures with 19 points, nine rebounds, and 11 assists. She also harassed Taurasi on the defensive end, limiting the league MVP to just 7-of-22 shooting, including 2-of-10 from 3-point range.
As the series shifted back to Indianapolis, the Fever had the opportunity to capture a WNBA title with a pair of wins on their home floor.
The sellout crowd for Game 3 — the first women's professional basketball championship game in the city's history — was treated to a thrilling contest. Ebony Hoffman sprained her right shoulder midway through the fourth quarter, but returned to the floor in time to make two of the biggets plays in the entire series. The Fever's veteran forward hit a jump shot to give Indiana a one-point lead in the final minute and then blocked Tangela Smith's shot with a second remaining to lift the Fever to an 86-85 victory.
Hoffman led Indiana with 18 points. Briann January added 17 points off the bench, while All-Stars Tamika Catchings and Katie Douglas combined for 29 points, 18 rebounds, and 14 assists.
Another sellout crowd — including Colts stars Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne — came out to see the Fever potentially win a championship in Game 4, but Phoenix thwarted those dreams. Indiana shot just 2-for-13 in the fourth quarter as the Mercury came away with a 90-77 win that sent the WNBA Finals to a fifth game for just the second time ever.
Back in Phoenix, the Mercury throughout the second half by as many as 10 points, but the Fever wouldn't go down without a fight. Indiana fought back to cut the margin to two on Tamika Catchings' layup with 1:00 remaining, but were unable to score again as Phoenix hit six free throws down the stretch to wrap up their second title in three years with a 94-86 victory.
"I thought we played about as well as we could play,'' Fever coach Lin Dunn said after the loss. "I thought there were a couple of times that we missed some shots that maybe could have helped us win a championship, but they didn't fall.''
Despite the loss, the Fever exited with their heads held high, having accomplished more than any previous team in the franchise's existence. Even in defeat, the Fever had played a major part in arguably the most competitive and exciting playoff series in the history of the WNBA.
After the Game 5 loss, Tammy Sutton-Brown told reporters that the Fever could take pride in how hard they competed.
"I think it was a great series," she said. "It was great for the WNBA.''
Is the 2009 WNBA Finals one of your favorite moments in Fever history? Be sure to vote for it in FeverBasketball.com's #Fever15 Moments Tournament! Vote Now »