Indiana rolls into WNBA Finals with surprising ease; Fever reaction in postgame videos
“If you were to tell me this game would play out like this beforehand, I would have said you were crazy,” said Connecticut Sun head coach Mike Thibault with disappointment in his voice after game three of the Eastern Conference finals.
No one can blame him, having just witnessed his first place Sun, and the team with the second-best record in the WNBA and boasting a lineup featuring the league’s Most Valuable Player, suffer elimination at the hands the Indiana Fever with surprising ease, 87-71.
Sure, the loss of star guard Katie Douglas was a rallying cry for the Fever; a shot of adrenaline that picked up her teammates not named Tamika Catchings and pushed them to a higher level. This game was done before that injury though, and that was five minutes into the first quarter.
Whether the Sun was nervous, too excited, or it was just the Fever’s intensity, the Sun opened the game missing shots and launched several airballs. After one quarter it was 18-10, and the Fever had hit 57 percent of their shots (two-for-two from three-point line) and the Sun shot 25 percent, zero-for-five from three.
By halftime the lead was up to nineteen, 43-24, and while Catchings was leading the way with 12 points and seven rebounds, it was Erin Phillips taking over the Douglas role of “coming back to Connecticut and hammering your former team” with ten points and two assists. Further, the bench, an afterthought in Fever coach Lin Dunn’s new seven player rotation since the first round series with Atlanta, had put in 17 points. After that, the teams just played to see the final score.
In the end, it was the Fever with the balanced scoring; five players (Catchings, Phillips, Briann January, Shavonte Zellous, and Jeanette Pohlen) scored in double figures. They shot 55 percent for the game, 62 percent from three-point range. Finally, they did the one thing Dunn really wanted to see, they won the battle of the boards, outrebounding Connecticut 30-28.
For Connecticut, Charles had yet another double-double with 18 points and ten rebounds, but she was held reasonably in check by Larkins and Jessica Davenport, who never allowed her to get comfortable down in the low post. Asjha Jones was held to two rebounds, and will face an offseason again having to rehab an injury, this year the nagging heel that benched her most of the second half of the season. The magic that was in the hands of Kara Lawson this year disappeared for stretches in this game, as the Fever made the extra effort to deny her the ball and refused to let her get clean shots off. She hit for sixteen in the end, but on only five-of-fifteen shooting.
The Sun will face an offseason with the disappointment of playing their worst game of the season in their last game. However they will eventually realize that the accomplishments reached and the improvements from last year will be another step towards their goal of winning it all.
The Fever got to celebrate, and I got to watch. So while they being preparation for the WNBA Finals challenge of the Minnesota Lynx, possibly without Douglas, enjoy some of the video postgame reactions from your WNBA Eastern Conference champions.
Lin Dunn and Tamika Catchings
Erlana Larkins and post players