Even with five-time All-Star Tamika Catchings back in the lineup, the Indiana Fever still have not found a way to beat the Connecticut Sun this season. Now, they're facing an elimination game.
After finishing on the losing end of a memorable postseason opener, the second-seeded Fever try to avoid getting swept out of the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year when they host the Sun in Game 2 on Saturday.
Indiana battled back from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit in Game 1 on Thursday night, but lost 93-88 in the first triple-overtime playoff game in WNBA history. The Sun held the Fever scoreless in the final 2 1/2 minutes of the third overtime.
"It's hard to rank it now, but it was a pretty good one," Connecticut coach Mike Thibault said. "It has to be up there just because of the amount of energy expended by both teams."
The Sun won all four regular-season games over Indiana and need just one more victory to win this best-of-three series - which now shifts to Conseco Fieldhouse for the final two contests - to advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the fourth straight year.
Connecticut has swept its last two first-round series, while the Fever were swept by eventual champion Detroit in the first round last season.
Catchings returned to the court in Game 1 for the first time since July 20, missing 13 games because of a torn foot muscle.
She finished with 14 points and a game-high 20 rebounds in a team-high 47 minutes. In the second overtime, Catchings had four of the Fever's six points, including a pair of free throws with 3.8 seconds left to send the game to the third overtime.
"As the game wore on it got tighter and tighter but I had a heat pack on the side and that helped," Catchings said. "The more I played, the better I got."
Teammate Anna DeForge had a season-high 31 points and Tamika Whitmore added 24 on Thursday.
Nykesha Sales led Connecticut with 25 points, while guard Katie Douglas had 14 points and a WNBA playoff-record eight steals.
Asjha Jones, who missed the final three games of the regular season with an ankle sprain, returned to give the Sun 20 points and 10 rebounds.
The Fever finished the regular season tied for the best home record in the East with the Shock at 12-5. Connecticut, meanwhile, had the conference's second-best road record at 10-7, and won both of its games at Indiana.
"All we have to do is focus upon the next game, getting a win and it's back to tied," Fever coach Brian Winters said. "We just have just got to regroup, go home and win on our own court."
Game 3, if necessary, will be Monday night.