Conference Finals Preview: Atlanta Dream vs. Indiana Fever

By: Ashley Atwell, WNBA.com


The 2012 WNBA Champion Indiana Fever battle the Atlanta Dream in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images



Which team will win the Conference Finals matchup between Atlanta and Indiana?
Which team will win the Conference Finals matchup between Atlanta and Indiana?
View Results

Game 1: Atlanta 84, Indiana 79
Game 2: Atlanta 67, Indiana 53
Game 1: Atlanta 84, Indiana 79 RECAP | VIDEO
Game 2: Atlanta 67, Indiana 53 RECAP | VIDEO

It was a battle for Atlanta in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against Washington, but the Dream pulled out the series with an 80-72 win in game 3. While the Dream fought to the very end, the Indiana Fever took care of the Chicago Sky with dominating defensive performances in both game of the series.

Now, the Dream will take on the defending champion Fever in the Eastern Conference Finals--which will feature a big matchup between 2013 WNBA All-Defensive Team members the Dream's Angel McCoughtry and the Fever's Tamika Catchings.

During the regular-season, the Dream took the series 3-1. Angel McCoughtry posted high numbers in each game, reaching a game-high 30 points and adding 9 rebounds and 8 assists during the final matchup between the two back on September 4. Her big offensive play helped lead the Dream over the injury-riddled Fever during the regular-season.

Back in June, the Fever lost center Jessica Davenport to a stress fracture in her lower leg and another three players were out of the lineup through mid-July. During the regular-season series, the Fever's Erin Phillips, Katie Douglas, Shavonte Zellous and Briann January all sat out games due to injuries. On the Dream's side starting guard Tiffany Hayes sat out in the team's one loss to the Fever.

The Fever's Katie Douglas is still day-to-day with a back injury, but the team was able to pull together in the semifinals and shutdown the top-seeded Sky and Rookie of the Year Elena Delle Donne without her. With the team mostly back to health and the confidence from the dominating win in the semifinals, expect this to be a competitive matchup.

The two teams have tangled in the post-season for the past two years. In 2012 the Dream lost to the Fever in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, 2-1, (Indiana went on to win the 2012 WNBA Championship) and the year before that the team defeated Indiana in the Eastern Conference Finals, 2-1, but eventually fell to Minnesota in the 2011 WNBA Finals.

Last year's post-season matchup was a physical series and Indiana was just on fire. The Fever's starters all put up big number in games 2 and 3 and were able to contain then WNBA scoring-leader Angel McCoughtry, only allowing her to score two points in the second half of game 3, to close out the series.

The year before, Angel McCoughtry led her team to the 2011 WNBA Finals with a stellar performance against Indiana in game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. She posted 26 points and 8 rebounds, using the opposing crowd's chatter as motivation to win.

This year, Angel McCoughtry is once again the league's scoring-leader and is determined to get her team back into the finals. However, with the Fever mostly back to health, the chemistry flowing again and previous postseason and championships experience, this series is sure to be a battle. The Fever are also on a streak. With the win over No. 1 seeded Chicago in the semifinals, Indiana has now a streak of three consecutive postseason series wins over high-seeded opponents (Indiana is the No. 4 seed). With 2012 WNBA Finals MVP Tamika Catchings rounding into playoff form, the Fever may be peaking at just the right time.



2013 Regular Season: Atlanta 3, Indiana 1

Friday, May 31, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN: Dream 86, Fever 77 | Box Score | Highlights
Atlanta Leaders: Angel McCoughtry (29 pts., 9 reb.), Jasmine Thomas (15 pts., 7 ast.)
Indiana Leaders: Tamika Catchings (20 pts., 7 reb.), Katie Douglas (17 pts., 4 reb.)

Tuesday, June 25, Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA: Dream 76, Fever 60 | Box Score | Highlights
Atlanta Leaders: Erika de Souz (17 pts., 10 reb.), Angel McCoughtry (16 pts., 4 ast.)
Indiana Leaders: Shavonte Zellous (18 pts., 5 reb.), Karima Christmas (16 pts., 10 reb.)

Saturday, August 10, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN: Fever 80, Dream 66 | Box Score | Highlights
Indiana Leaders: Tamika Catchings (21 pts., 7 reb.), Erin Phillips (15 pts., 3 reb.)
Atlanta Leaders: Angel McCoughtry (17 pts., 3 reb., 3 ast.), Erika de Souza (13 pts., 5 reb.)

Wednesday, September 4, Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA: Dream 89, Fever 80 | Box Score | Highlights
Atlanta Leaders: Angel McCoughtry (30 pts., 9 reb., 8 ast.), Erika de Souza (17 pts., 15 reb.)
Indiana Leaders: Tamika Catchings (22 pts., 9 reb.), Shavonte Zellous (15 pts., 4 reb.)



See how the teams match up position by position (regular-season stats)

Jasmine Thomas, G, Dream
8.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.1 APG
Shavonte Zellous, G, Fever
14.7 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.7 APG
Tiffany Hayes, G, Dream
11.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.7 APG
Karima Christmas, G, Fever
8.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.1 APG
Angel McCoughtry, G/F, Dream
21.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.4 APG
Tamika Catchings, F, Fever
17.7 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 2.4 APG
Lecoe Willingham, F, Dream
4.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG, .8 APG
Katie Douglas, G/F, Fever
15.0 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.5 APG
Erika de Souza, C, Dream
12.9 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 1.3 APG
Erlana Larkins, F, Fever
7.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.9 APG
More

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