2010 Playoffs: Indiana Fever
Aug 30 2010 3:18PM
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Hoffman, Fever Hoping For Game-Three Win
Posted August 30, 2010 3:16 PM
The Indiana Fever had to win Sunday night. It was the only way for their season to continue.
The Fever knocked off the New York Liberty, 75-67, in Game Two of the WNBA’s Eastern Conference Semifinals. With New York taking Game One in this best-of-three series, Indiana was in a lose-or-go-home situation.
“We definitely were a different team,” forward Ebony Hoffman said. “We kind of came out with a different type of urgency.”
That urgency left the Fever with a 21-8 advantage at the end of the first quarter and they entered the half up by 12. Tamika Catchings, who was named to the 2010 WNBA’s All-Defensive Team on Sunday, led Indiana with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Tammy Sutton-Brown added 14 and six, while Hoffman had seven points and an equal amount of boards.
“We know how we want to play,” Hoffman said. “It’s not a mystery to us how we want to play against this team.”
Thus far, the home team has won each of the two games. The series began in New York, headed to Indiana for Game Two and now shifts back to the Big Apple for the deciding contest. Hoffman believes the Fever are still the team to beat.
“It’s going to take a lot of us not trying to do too much. Just to know we play for these moments. This is why we play this game and why we’re in this situation. We’re still the Eastern Conference champions, so in my mind everybody has to come through us still,” Hoffman said.
“I have no doubts that it will be a physical game. With a team losing and going home and the other team going on to the Eastern Conference Finals, it’s going to be extremely physical. I don’t think either team wants to leave anything in the locker room. They want to come out and give whatever they got.”
The most critical part of stopping the Liberty is limiting Cappie Pondexter’s ability to score. Pondexter is averaging 26 points in the series. On Sunday, she scored 24 points on just 8-for-22 from the field.
“We wanted to have Cappie take some different looks. Instead of letting her go off and making her feel comfortable, we tried to make her uncomfortable,” Hoffman said. “She’s a great player but we just tried to throw at her any different matchup we could.”
Another key for the Fever in Game Two was cutting the amount of three-pointers New York made in each of the games from nine to four.
“That’s very important. If a team can’t make threes, than that’s a few less points that they have that they can count on,” she said. “They’re really counting on Nicole Powell and Leilani Mitchell and a few others to hit threes in order for them to win, so we tried to make sure that we got out there [and] ran them off the three-point line.”
The reigning Eastern Conference champions swept the Washington Mystics in the semifinals last season, before going to the max three games against Detroit in the conference finals and the full five against the Mercury in the Finals. Hoffman, who was part of the 2009 Fever, says its time to alter the game plans.
“Anne Donovan is a championship coach. She’s got a lot of experience and of course she’s going to change up her scheme, but we’re changing up our scheme as well,” Hoffman said. “We’re not going to do the same thing but we are going to be just as aggressive and to come out and attack them as well. We have to get them in foul trouble, we have to get to the free throw line and I think that was the difference in the game as well.”
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Fever Aims to Improve
Posted August 28, 2010 4:46 PM
Losing to the New York Liberty in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals wasn’t the ideal start to the postseason, but Katie Douglas and the Indiana Fever are intent on extracting the positives.
“At times [on Thursday] we just did some things that really hurt us,” said Douglas. “The good thing is, things are very fixable. It’s not like we have to start over. These are very fixable, correctable errors.”
There are a number of areas the Fever will look to improve on in Game Two. For starters, Indiana shot 53 percent in the first half (17-for-32) but knocked down only 30 percent of its shots in the last half of play (9-for-30). Second-chance points were also limited, as New York out-rebounded Indiana 39-25.
“They were able to knock down some shots and we weren’t in any kind of flow,” said Douglas of the 85-73 loss. “Any time you give up so many offensive rebounds, no matter how hard you try to battle and stay positive, it really crushes you.”
Emphasis on containing New York’s Cappie Pondexter is another detail the Fever will look to improve on in Game Two. Earlier in the season, Pondexter reached a personal-best 40-point game against Indiana. On Sunday, Pondexter lit up the Fever for 23 points in the first half and added another five in the second.
“She had a phenomenal performance in the first half,” said Douglas of Pondexter. “I think we did a better job in the second half versus her, but then again you had different people on their team able to chip in and chip away.”
In addition to Pondexter, three other Liberty players finished with double-figure scoring, as Essence Carson finished with 17, Taj McWilliams-Franklin with 15 and Nicole Powell with 13. Finding a way to contain and limit chances is something Douglas hopes the Fever can improve on moving forward.
“It’s tough when somebody has a first half like that and then you’re trying to put the clamps in the second half and then other people for them were able to chip away and contribute,” Douglas added. “That’s kind of an uphill battle.”
“They definitely exploited us, but hopefully we can correct our mistakes and put it together on Sunday.”
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
New Postseason, Fresh Start
Posted August 24, 2010 4:46 PM
Tamika Catchings doesn’t plan on using the 2009 WNBA Finals as motivation during this year’s playoff run. Instead, the Indiana Fever forward is looking to hit the reset button.
“It’s a new, fresh start,” Catchings said. “[Last year] didn’t happen; gotta get regrouped.”
“Where we were last year and the things we were able to achieve as a team, while it was an awesome experience and awesome to go through it, that has nothing to do with this year.”
The Fever’s 2009 campaign ended in a decisive Finals Game 5 loss to the Phoenix Mercury. This year, Indiana (21-13) tips off its 2010 postseason on Thursday at Madison Square Garden against the second-seeded New York Liberty (22-12). The third-ranked Fever are 2-2 against their Eastern Conference foe this year.
Indiana is quite familiar with the Liberty’s top player, Cappie Pondexter. The 27-year-old guard, who averaged 20.8 points in last year’s Finals, was a key ingredient to the Mercury’s success from 2006 through 2009. An off-season deal brought her to the Big Apple, where she’s attempting to get the Liberty their first WNBA championship – the Fever are also looking for their first.
“It’s definitely going to be a hard-fought series,” Catchings said. “It’s funny just thinking about the playoffs and thinking about the Finals last year. It’s like, ‘Okay, here we go, up against Cappie again.’ Same player but different team and just kind of going back, looking back at last year’s Finals and the things that she’s capable of doing against us.”
Eight players from last year’s Eastern Conference championship team comprise their current roster. Catchings has little doubt that this group holds the potential to go all the way.
“For me it’s such a different feel than any of the other championships runs with teams that I’ve been on,” the reigning defensive player of the year said. “The preparation right now is staying focused, staying together and making sure that we have everything amongst ourselves more than anything.”
Catchings finished among the league’s Top 10 in scoring (18.2, 5th), rebounds (7.1, 9th), three-point percentage (.448, 2nd) and steals (2.26, 1st). Her versatility is what helped the Fever become not only one of the best defensive teams in the league this season, but also one that can explode on offense. She attributes her success to her team’s chemistry.
“I think there’s definitely a level of comfort,” Catchings said. “Just from a standpoint where even the players on our team, even the younger players, the comfort among all of us (is strong).”