Fever vs. Sky: How to Survive the Eastern Conference Finals
After Chicago completed yet another incredible comeback in double-overtime on Monday to stay alive in the WNBA Playoffs, there's no doubt this Sky is team is one that knows how to survive despite the myriad of injuries and illnesses it suffered throughout the season. In order to win the WNBA Eastern Conference Finals, however, just "surviving" might not be enough.
The Fever are a tough and driven team that appears to be in fine health. The team boasts a legendary leader in Tamika Catchings and her army of heavy-hitting teammates like Shavonte Zellous, Erlana Larkins and Briann January.
Here are the keys for both teams to survive and advance:
These are two teams that were wrecked by injury this season. Tamika Catchings and Elena Delle Donne were both out for 17 games this season. One of the keys to this series was always going to be which team was healthier in the end. Unfortunately for the Sky, Elena Delle Donne has been struck with a sore back (the same affliction Catchings suffered at the beginning of the season). Delle Donne's injury severely affected her performance in the last two games -- she scored only nine points in the double-overtime Game 2 and consistently received treatment on the sidelines. If she can make some strides in terms of her mobility, a big performance from EDD could steal this series.
In both games this series, Elena Delle Donne and Tamika Catchings were not the high scorers on their respective teams. For the Fever, we saw Briann January and Shavonte Zellous step up while Sylvia Fowles has put up huge numbers for the Sky, including 27 points in Monday's win. Not to mention, Chicago is harboring Sixth Woman of the Year Allie Quigley, who contributed 14 points in Game 1.
The winning team, however, is going to need big performances from both their stars and their secondary players to move on to the Finals.
If you've paid attention to the WNBA season and Playoffs at all, you'll know that they have been characterized by close games and clutch performances by big players. Two of which are Tamika Catchings and Elena Delle Donne. Tonight's game will pair clutch player against clutch player in what figures to be one of the most tightly contested games of the 2014 WNBA season.
Not only is this legendary Fever Coach Lin Dunn's last season, this is Tamika Catching's 11th year in the WNBA postseason. Between the two of them, this could be the Fever's most storybook ending yet. This, however, could give youthful Chicago -- who have already gone farther than they ever have in the postseason -- even more drive to win.