Series Preview: (2) Indiana Fever vs. (3) Atlanta Dream

Sep 25 2012 9:21PM

By: Anthony Oliva, WNBA.com


Tamika Catchings leads the Fever versus the Dream in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images



Which team will win the Conference Semifinal matchup between Indiana and Atlanta?
Which team will win the Conference Semifinal matchup between Indiana and Atlanta?
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Game 1: Atlanta at Indiana
Fri, Sept. 28, 7 ET, ESPN2
Game 2: Indiana at Atlanta
Sun, Sept. 30, 4 ET, ESPN2
Game 3*: Atlanta at Indiana
Tue, Oct. 1, TBD, TBD
* if necessary
Last year, WNBA fans got partially robbed of a star-studded matchup between Indiana’s Tamika Catchings and Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry in the Eastern Conference Finals because Catchings hurt her foot late in Game Two and was not the same for the pivotal Game Three, which Atlanta went on to win.

Twelve months later we get a second chance, this time in the playoffs opening round. Indiana comes in with the No. 2 seed and homecourt advantage, but it wouldn’t be much of an upset if McCoughtry and the Dream were to top the Fever again, especially since Atlanta comes into this series having won seven of their last nine -- with one of those losses being a double-overtime setback to Minnesota.

The team that wins this series will likely be determined by the play of Catchings and McCoughtry – teammates on Team USA a little over a month ago. They likely won’t guard each other much in the series – Catchings has taken a bigger role in the post this year – but their production, especially in key moments, will be a deciding factor.

Catchings just completed a season where she was actually statistically better than in her MVP season last year. She is used to the big moment and her veteran savvy as well all-around skills will be a huge asset for Indiana. With Catchings, you know what you’re getting.

McCoughtry, on the other hand, is a little bit more of a wild card. She was suspended for a few games in the second half of the year after some drama that may have led to getting former coach Marynell Meadors replaced, but when she is on the court and motivated, there may be no player tougher to stop. McCoughtry has led this Atlanta team to two straight WNBA Finals – never as a top two seed – and you cannot discount her ability to do the same this year.

As for the supporting casts, Indiana relies heavily on Katie Douglas’ outside shooting. Nearly half of Douglas’ field goals this year have come from behind the arc where she shoots 42.3 percent. Catchings and Douglas combine for 43 percent of the Fever ‘s scoring and since they are both 33 years old and have played a combined 24 WNBA seasons, this may be one of the last hurrahs for these two all-time greats.

Indiana is, however, dealing with some injury concerns. Both Shavonte Zellous and Briann January, key players in the backcourt, suffered head injuries on Sept. 17 and haven't played since.

As far as Atlanta, it got a big boost after the Olympic break by getting Erika de Souza back, who was training with the Brazilian National Team in the first half. In 14 games, de Souza has averaged 11.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 30 minutes per game. She forms a strong post duo with Sancho Lyttle (14.1ppg, 7.6rpg) and helps detract some attention away from McCoughtry.

The best-of-three series tips off on Friday in Indiana. Both teams played very strong basketball in the second half and the Catchings-McCoughtry showdown should finally live up to the hype.

Some fast facts about the first-round matchup:

-- In the 23 games that McCoughtry has played this year, the Dream are 14-10 (.583). In the 10 she has missed, the team is 5-5 (.500).

-- Atlanta is fifth in the league in scoring with a 78.6 points per game average. Indiana is sixth with a 78.3 average.

-- Indiana shoots 40 percent as a team from the 3-point range -- the best in the league. Atlanta is 11th at 29.6 percent.

-- Katie Douglas is averaging three more points a game (18.1) in the second half than she did in the first half (15.1)

-- Indiana is 6-2 when Tamika Catchings scores 20 or more points



2011 Regular Season: Indiana 3, Atlanta 2

Saturday, May 19, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN: Fever 92, Dream 84 | Box Score | Highlights
Atlanta Leaders: Angel McCoughtry (26 pts., 7 reb.), Sancho Lyttle (18 pts., 10 reb.)
Indiana Leaders: Katie Douglas (21 pts., 3 ast.), Tamika Catchings (16 pts., 7 reb.)

Sunday, May 27, Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA: Fever 78, Dream 62 | Box Score | Highlights
Atlanta Leaders: Angel McCoughtry (21 pts., 4 rebs.), Sancho Lyttle (11 pts., 9 reb.)
Indiana Leaders: Tamika Catchings (25 pts., 12 rebs.), Katie Douglas (16 pts., 7 reb.)

Tuesday, June 26, Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA: Dream 70, Fever 58 | Box Score | Highlights
Atlanta Leaders: Angel McCoughtry (22 pts., 5 reb.), Sancho Lyttle (17 pts., 8 reb.)
Indiana Leaders: Briann January (7 pts., 6 ast.), Tamika Catchings (8 pts., 4 reb.)

Saturday, August 18, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN: Fever 86, Dream 71 | Box Score | Highlights
Atlanta Leaders: Angel McCoughtry (22 pts., 4 reb.), Lindsey Harding (12 pts., 3 reb.)
Indiana Leaders: Katie Douglas (29 pts., 3 ast.), Tamika Catchings (17 pts., 9 reb.)

Wednesday, September 5, Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA: Dream 71, Fever 64 | Box Score | Highlights
Atlanta Leaders: Lindsey Harding (20 pts., 4 reb.), Angel McCoughtry (15 pts., 6 reb.)
Indiana Leaders: Katie Douglas (23 pts., 3 ast.), Tamika Catchings (13 pts., 9 reb.)



See how the teams match up position by position

Lindsey Harding, G, Dream
12.3 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 4.5 APG
Briann January, G, Fever
10.3 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 3.9 APG
Armintie Price, G/F, Dream
8.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.5 APG
Shavonte Zellous, G, Fever
7.5 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.7 APG
Angel McCoughtry , G-F, Dream
21.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.9 APG
Katie Douglas, G-F, Fever
16.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.2 APG
Sancho Lyttle, F, Dream
14.0 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 3.5 APG
Tamika Catchings, F, Fever
17.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 3.1 APG
Erika de Souza, C, Dream
11.6 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.6 APG
Tammy Sutton-Brown, C, Fever
3.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 0.7 APG




Western Conference

Conference Finals

Conference Semi Finals

Eastern Conference

Conference Finals

Conference Semi Finals