Sky vs. Fever in the Home Opener
Off to its first 1-0 start since the Skyís first regular season campaign back in 2006, Chicagoís home opener pits the team against a tough Indiana Fever squad. The Fever, which tied for the Eastern Conference regular season crown in 2011, is expected to once again threaten for conference supremacy. The Tamika Catchings led squad beat the Sky three out of four times last year including a big win at Allstate Arena on September 4 effectively ending the Skyís playoff hopes and now have won eight of the last nine games against Chicago.
However, this is not the same Chicago Sky team. The Sky looked sharp in the season opener against Washington, winning 69-57 with a huge 24 point fourth quarter. Sylvia Fowles had the type fo game we have come to expect, scoring 23 points and grabbing 12 rebounds; 11 of those points coming in the final period as she carried the team on her back. With Fowles dominating the post, Epiphanny Prince scoring at will (16 points), and Swin Cash playing her unique and effective all-around game (14 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals), the Sky pass the eyeball test for becoming an elite team in the WNBA.
The Fever will provide a good early season test. Looking like they havenít missed a beat since last season, the Fever opened at home with a solid victory over the Atlanta Dream 92 Ė 84. With a healthy Briann January back in the rotation, the Fever have more scoring options and a versatile point guard with a knack for finding scoring opportunities for her teammates, particularly with the elite group of spot up shooters in the Fever lineup. Erin Phillips, who commandeered the point last year with her all-around toughness and nose for the basket, will likely play both guard positions this year. Missing however from this yearís Fever team though is forward/center Tangela Smith, who left for San Antonio, and consistently hurt the Sky from three-point range in 2011. Without her, the Fever may need to find another shooting threat beyond Katie Douglas and the 2011 league MVP Catchings to maintain their edge over Chicago.
Look for the Sky to use their size to force the Fever away from its preferred smaller lineups. One thing is certain, itís going to be a rough, physical matchup to start the season between the two Midwestern rivals. Come on out to Allstate Arena, and make some noise for your Chicago Sky. Tip off is at 7:30 p.m. CT.
The game will also be broadcast on Comcast CN100 as well as WNBA LiveAccess (log on to www.chicagosky.net for LiveAccess).