Series Preview: (1) Connecticut Sun vs. (2) Indiana Fever

Oct 3 2012 8:45PM

By: Anthony Oliva, WNBA.com


League MVP Tina Charles and the Connecticut Sun will take on Tamika Catchings and the Indiana Fever in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images



Which team will win the Eastern Conference Finals between Connecticut and Indiana?
Which team will win the Eastern Conference Finals between Connecticut and Indiana?
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Game 1: Indiana at Connecticut
Fri, Oct. 5, 8 ET, ESPN2
Game 2: Connecticut at Indiana
Mon. Oct. 8, 8 ET, ESPN2
Game 3*: Indiana at Connecticut
Thu, Oct. 11, 8:30ET, ESPN2
* if necessary
Rightfully so, the two best teams in the East all season will square off in the Eastern Conference Finals. The top-seeded Connecticut Sun reached this series by sweeping the No. 4 seed New York Liberty and the No. 2 seed Indiana Fever edged the third-seeded Atlanta Dream in three games to get here.

In making it this far, Connecticut earned not only their first playoff series win since 2006, but their Game One victory over New York was actually the team's first playoff victory in the Tina Charles era. Finally getting over that hump is something that many players on the team said could propel the team to many more playoff victories.

As always with the Sun, success really starts with the play of Charles and Asjha Jones in the paint. Charles combined for 42 points and 17 rebounds in Connecticut's two wins versus New York and Asjha Jones returned from injury to play an average of 28.5 minutes per game against the Liberty, combining for 30 points and 17 rebounds herself.

Indiana will counter in the post with Tamika Catchings and this series' X-factor, Erlana Larkins. We all know what Catchings can do -- three double-doubles in her three games versus Atlanta -- but Larkins took advantage of her extra minutes in the playoffs. She started Indiana's last two games, only her third and fourth starts of the year, and she came up big. In Game Three, the 6-foot-1 Larkins had 16 points and 20 rebounds. For the series, Larkins averaged 14.3 points, 10.7 rebounds and shot 70.3 percent from the floor. Her emergence makes the battle in the post that much more intriguing.

On the perimeter, the teams are evenly matched as well and It may come down to who shoots better from downtown between Connecticut's Kara Lawson or Indiana's Katie Douglas. Both were lethal from 3-point range this year as Kara Lawson hit a franchise record 74 from behind the arc in the regular season (43 percent) as Douglas countered by making 80 (42 percent). It would not be surprising if the momentum of this series swings on a 3-pointer from one of these two.

Connecticut won three of the four meetings between these two teams in the regular season and the only Sun loss came on a day when the Fever hit 15 3-pointers. Indiana has the experience edge, but Connecticut has homecourt advantage and is supremely confident at the moment. The series kicks off on Friday and it figures to be an exciting one.

Some fast facts about the first-round matchup:

-- The matchup feature the league's last two MVPs -- Connecticut's Tina Charles and Indiana's Tamika Catchings.

-- In the regular season, Connecticut was 21-9 (.700) when their opponent scored over 70 points. Indiana was only 11-10 (.524).

-- Tamika Catchings has a double-double in six of her last eight games.

-- Indiana was second-best in the league allowing only 73.2 points per game in the regular season while Connecticut allowed 81.6 points per night.



2012 Regular Season: Connecticut 3, Indiana 1

Friday, June 8, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN: Sun 89, Fever 81 | Box Score | Highlights
Connecticut Leaders: Tina Charles (12 pts., 14 reb.), Kara Lawson (18 pts., 7 reb.)
Indiana Leaders: Tamika Catchings (31 pts., 8 reb.), Katie Douglas (23 pts., 3 reb.)

Tuesday, June 19, Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT: Sun 88, Fever 85 | Box Score
Connecticut Leaders: Tina Charles (14 pts., 8 reb.), Kara Lawson (22 pts., 4 reb.)
Indiana Leaders: Tamika Catchings (14 pts., 7 reb.), Katie Douglas (23 pts., 9 reb.)

Thursday, June 21, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN: Fever 95, Sun 61 | Box Score | Highlights
Connecticut Leaders: Mistie Mims (11 pts., 5 reb.), Kara Lawson (10 pts., 6 reb.)
Indiana Leaders: Tamika Catchings (13 pts., 10 reb.), Briann January (20 pts., 3 ast.)

Wednesday, September 19, Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT: Sun 73, Fever 67 | Box Score
Connecticut Leaders: Tina Charles (17 pts., 12 reb.), Kara Lawson (23 pts., 6 reb.)
Indiana Leaders: Tamika Catchings (15 pts., 5 reb.), Katie Douglas (19 pts., 4 reb.)



See how the teams match up position by position

Kara Lawson, G, Sun
15.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 4.0 APG
Briann January, G, Fever
10.3 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 3.9 APG
Kalana Greene, G, Sun
4.2 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.7 APG
Erin Phillips, G, Fever
6.1 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 2.2 APG
Allison Hightower, G, Sun
6.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 2.5 APG
Katie Douglas, G-F, Fever
16.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.2 APG
Asjha Jones, F, Sun
12.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 2.0 APG
Tamika Catchings, F, Fever
17.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 3.1 APG
Tina Charles, C, Sun
18.0 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 1.7 APG
Erlana Larkins, F, Fever
4.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.1 APG