Practice Report: October 20

Oct 20 2012 4:31PM

Indiana's Tamika Catchings has her team in the right mindset heading into Game 4 of the WNBA Finals.
Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images

INDIANAPOLS, IND. -- Despite the unmistakable similarities, the Indiana Fever insist that this year being up 2-1 with a chance to close out the WNBA Finals at home is nothing like 2009 when they found themselves in that same exact situation.

“We haven’t talked about 2009,” Fever coach Lin Dunn said. “All we’re doing is talking about right now. I know the veterans, they already know what it was like in 2009 but this is a totally different group and there’s no need discussing that.”

On that team was Tamika Catchings, Katie Douglas, Tammy Sutton-Brown, Jessica Davenport, Briann January while Dunn was the head coach. Much like last night, they won Game 3, this time against a Phoenix Merucry team starring Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter, but dropped Game 4 at home and the deciding Game 5 in Phoenix. In fact, the three teams, including that 2009 Indiana team, in WNBA Finals history that won Game 3 after the series was 1-1 all went on to lose the series.

Still, the players are not fazed by the coincidence, stressing that this is a different team.

“I think since 2009, the players that were a part of that team, we’ve grown up a lot, we’ve matured quite a bit,” Catchings said. “And just knowing that we can come in here and just keep that focus. I feel like, as a team, we have to come in here and play like our backs are against the wall.”

And, despite the fact that the Fever, by all definitions, dominated Game 3, they are proceeding as if Game 3 had gone the other way. When asked if Game 4 was a must win, Catchings didn’t hesitate before saying, “Yes.”

“I think we approach this game more like we lost, just having that fire,” Catchings said. “Every time we’ve lost, we’ve come out with that extra fire and we’ve got to keep that fire going.”

As will all good teams, coach and star player were on the same page.

“We have to play the game tomorrow night as if we lost,” Dunn said. “We have to have that same sense of urgency that we had after we lost Game 2. That’s how we have to approach tomorrow because they are going to come in with an enormous amount of intensity. Just like they did after we stole Game 1. So we have to be ready for that – they are not going to go away.”

Fever Injury Update
In unfortunate news for Jeanette Pohlen and the Indiana Fever, it was confirmed today that Pohlen – a 42 percent shooter from 3-point range – has a torn ACL and will obviously be missed for the rest of the series and out an extended period of time. Pohlen got hurt in Game 2 and the Fever will miss the depth that she provided.

As for Katie Douglas and her ankle, Douglas was not on the court with her team on Saturday, instead she was receiving treatment.

“We continue to be optimistic,” Dunn said of Douglas’ ability to play this series. “I had hoped she would be further enough along that she could be here for a walk through, but she wasn’t, so we’ll just see where she is tomorrow.”

Who’s Got the Pressure
Depending on who you are asking, you will get a different answer on who has the pressure for Game 4. Minnesota is in a win-or-go-home situation, but Indiana desperately does not want to go back to Minnesota.

Minnesota’s Seimone Augustus split the difference.

“It’s a little bit of pressure both ways,” Augustus said. “Of course, we’ve got the obvious pressure: if we don’t play these next 40 minutes as best we can, our season is over. And for them, being in this situation in 2009 and being in a similar situation now, to have to relive that would be disappointing for them.”

Minnesota’s Game 3 performance was disappointing for the Lynx, and they are trying to move on as quickly as possible.

“We don’t want to remember any of last night,” Augustus said. “Nothing went our way last night. What we do want to bottle up is the energy and intensity that the second group, the bench players, came in and played with. We’ve got to come in knowing that Indiana is going do everything in their power to try end it here and not go back to Minnesota, and we have to do everything in our power to get it back to Minnesota [for a Game 5].”

Happy Birthday Mama Taj
Today, the WNBA’s older player, Minnesota forward Taj McWilliams-Franklin turned 42 years young.

“At the meeting we ribbed her quite a bit, told her she was catching us, that didn’t make her feel very good, she was catching me and [Assistant Coaches] Jim [Peterson] and Shelley [Patterson],” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We’re actually going to get ready to do something here when we close the media session. We’re going to do our usual thing, we’ll paddle-wheel Taj, and we’ll make her dance and we’ll sing to her.”