Series Preview: (1) Indiana Fever vs. (4) New York Liberty

Sep 13 2011 8:59PM

Which team will win the Conference Semifinal matchup between Indiana and New York?
Which team will win the Conference Semifinal matchup between Indiana and New York?
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Game 1: New York at Indiana
Thu Sept. 15, 8 ET, ESPN2
Game 2: Indiana at New York
Sat Sept. 17, 4 ET, NBA TV
Game 3*: New York at Indiana
Mon Sept. 19, 8 ET, ESPN2
* if necessary
The Indiana Fever are the top seed in the Eastern Conference, but enter the Playoffs far from the pace that got them there. First, they lost six of their last nine games of the season, including a loss to their first-round opponent, the New York Liberty.

Second, do-everything forward Tamika Catchings was held out of Sunday�s regular season finale with a strained right knee that's been an issue for the past couple weeks, coach Lin Dunn said -- and not just a matter of sitting a player for rest in a game they could afford to lose. Catchings� final game of the regular season, against the Liberty on Sept. 9, saw her score just nine points with six rebounds and a season-high five turnovers.

The health of Catchings is huge for Indiana, as she contributes so much for this team. She is the team leader in scoring (15.5 ppg), rebounding (7.1 rpg), steals (2.03) and is second in assists (3.5 apg). Sitting out of Sunday�s game and the first round not opening until Thursday will allow some added time for recovery. If Catchings is slowed at all, look for more focus to shift to Katie Douglas, a veteran guard that can shoot the lights out.

While Catchings is the centerpiece for Indiana, Cappie Pondexter is her counterpart for New York. The Liberty guard is the catalyst for her team�s offense as she leads her team in both scoring (17.4 ppg) and assists (4.7 apg). Joining Pondexter among the Liberty leaders are forward Plenette Pierson (12.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg), guard Essence Carson (11.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg) and center Kia Vaughn (10.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg).

Meanwhile, as the Fever have limped into the postseason, the Liberty have won six of their last nine games, with two of those three losses coming by a single point.

This series could be a low-scoring affair as it matches up the No. 3 and 4 defenses in the league in points allowed, with the Fever giving up 73.8 per game and the Liberty allowing 74.76. Offensively, the Fever hold just a slight edge over the Liberty, averaging a little less than two points more per game.

Some fast facts about the first-round matchup:
  • The Fever lost the 2009 WNBA Finals to the Phoenix Mercury, a team that features Tangela Smith (now with the Fever) and Cappie Pondexter (now with the Liberty) in their starting lineup.
  • Indiana�s Katie Douglas has played in three WNBA Finals but has yet to win a championship.
  • The Liberty feature four players who have won WNBA titles � Pondexter (2 with Phoenix), Kara Braxton and Plenette Pierson (each with 2 from Detroit) and Nicole Powell (1 with Sacramento, along with current LIberty coach John Whisenant).
  • The New York Liberty are playing their home games at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ while Madison Square Garden is undergoing renovations. This will be their first playoff game in New Jersey.

2011 Regular Season: Tied

Friday, June 10, Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN: Liberty 81, Fever 80 | Box score
New York Leaders: Cappie Pondexter (21 pts., 3 ast.), Plennette Pierson (13 pts., 4 reb.)
Indiana Leaders: Katie Douglas (27 pts., 4 reb.), Tamika Catchings (13 pts., 6 reb.)

Saturday, June 11, Prudential Center, Newark, NJ: Fever 86, Liberty 80 | Box score
Indiana Leaders: Tamika Catchings (19 pts., 4 ast.), Katie Douglas (17 pts., 4 reb.)
New York Leaders: Essence Carson (23 pts., 2 reb.), Plennette Pierson (16 pts., 6 reb.)

Saturday, August 13, Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN: Fever 82, Liberty 71 | Box score | Highlights
New York Leaders: Cappie Pondexter (30 pts., 8 reb.), Essence Carson (16 pts., 3 reb.)
Indiana Leaders: Tamika Catchings (32 pts., 3 ast.), Tangela Smith (10 pts., 3 reb.)

Friday, September 9, Prudential Center, Newark, NJ: Liberty 83, Fever 75 | Box score | Highlights
Indiana Leaders: Katie Douglas (16 pts., 7 ast.), Shannon Bobbitt (16 pts., 7 ast.)
New York Leaders: Essence Carson (18 pts., 3 reb.), Kia Vaughn (15 pts., 9 reb.)

See how the teams match up position by position

Cappie Pondexter, G, Liberty
17.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 4.7 APG
Note: Played career high 45 min. vs. CON on 8/18
Katie Douglas, G, Fever
13.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 2.8 APG
Note: Attempted a season-high 11 3-pt vs. NYL on 6/10
Leilani Mitchell, G, Liberty
5.6 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 2.9 APG
Note: Scored a career-high 24 pts vs. MIN on 9/2
Erin Phillips, G, Fever
8.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 2.4 APG
Note: Set a career high for pts in 2011
Nicole Powell, F, Liberty
10.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.8 APG
Note: Had a career-high 6 steals vs. PHX on 7/30
Tamika Catchings, F, Fever
15.5 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 3.5 APG
Note: Ranked 8th in total pts, 9th in reb in WNBA in 2011
Plennette Pierson, F, Liberty
12.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.4 APG
Note: Set career highs in points, games started in 2011
Tangela Smith, F, Fever
7.2 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.5 APG
Note: Has averaged 11.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg in 44 career playoff games
Kia Vaughn, C, Liberty
10.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.1 APG
Note: First-year starter set career highs in all categories
Tammy Sutton-Brown, C, Fever
5.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.2 BPG
Note: Has reached the playoffs for 5 straight seasons

Western Conference

Conference Finals

Conference Semi Finals

Eastern Conference

Conference Finals

Conference Semi Finals