Fever

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By MIKE LIPKA, STATS Writer

After winning their playoff opener on the road, all the Detroit Shock have to do to advance to another Eastern Conference finals is claim one more victory where no other East team could in 2008.

The top-seeded Shock will look to eliminate the Indiana Fever from the postseason for the third straight year on Sunday when the teams face off in Game 2 of their first-round series at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

It seemed that for fourth-seeded Indiana to have any chance of knocking off the Shock, it would have to defend its home court in the series opener. Detroit, though, built a 10-point halftime lead and held on for an 81-72 win on Friday.

Now, the Fever would have to win twice on the road in order to advance. That prospect seems unlikely considering that the Shock went 14-3 at home in the regular season, including 10-0 against East opponents.

Detroit has also won six straight overall dating to the regular season.

"Close-out games are really hard," Shock center Taj McWilliams-Franklin said. "The good thing is that we're going back to Detroit, where we're much more comfortable, to play in front of our fans."

The Shock appear comfortable playing against Indiana anywhere. They swept the Fever in a first-round playoff series in 2006 en route to their second WNBA title, then won the final two games of last year's conference finals matchup between the teams.

Counting those two victories and Friday's win, Detroit has won six straight against Indiana. That includes a 90-68 victory in the most recent meeting at the Palace on Sept. 5, when the Shock streaked to a 17-point halftime lead.

"They have trouble with our personnel, our starting five," Detroit guard Deanna Nolan said. "It doesn't matter who they try to stop, somebody else is going to get off."

Detroit displayed that depth on Friday, as Nolan led the way with 22 points and four other players scored at least nine. McWilliams-Franklin had 17 points and seven rebounds, while Plenette Pierson had 11 points off the bench as the Shock shot 52.8 percent from the field.

The Fever, meanwhile, shot just 36.9 percent, losing despite getting 19 points from both Tamika Catchings and Ebony Hoffman. They had won their final two games at home to finish the regular season at .500, but went 6-11 on the road this year.

"We'll have to dig down deep and find it within ourselves," Hoffman said. "We'll have to find pride in ourselves to get an extra rebound, box out and do some of the little things."

The Fever also may need more help from Katie Douglas if they want to get back in the series. Douglas led Indiana with 15.6 points per game in the regular season, but was 0-of-4 from the field with only two points on Friday.

After reaching double figures in 26 of her first 29 games, she's done it just once in her last five contests, shooting below 30 percent over that span.

If Indiana dodges elimination Sunday, Game 3 would be on Tuesday.

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