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Fever-Sky: What Happened in the Regular Season?

By Wheat Hotchkiss

Indiana’s first round series with the Chicago Sky is not a typical 1-versus-4 matchup. Though the Sky cruised to the Eastern Conference’s best record in the regular season and the Fever finished two games below .500, these two teams are closer than their records might indicate.

For one thing, the Fever are the defending WNBA Champions and spent much of the year battling a slew of injuries to key players. Moreover, while Chicago only dropped 10 games on the season, three of those losses came to Indiana, who won the regular season series, 3-1.

What all can we glean from those four games that might give us some insight into how these two teams stack up with one another? Here’s a game-by-game look at the regular season series.

Chicago 71, Indiana 61 (June 22)

Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, Ind.)

What Went Down: A short-handed Fever squad hung tough for much of the contest, but Chicago used a 20-4 run in the fourth quarter to pull away and hand Indiana its sixth straight loss.

Why They Won: Epiphanny Prince scored 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting. She and Elena Delle Donne combined for 19 points in the final period (Prince scored 11, Delle Donne scored eight of her 13 points in the fourth quarter).

Why They Lost: Indiana played without several key players (more on that below), and sputtered offensively. The Fever shot just 32 percent (20-for-63 from the floor) and lost the rebounding battle, 41-26.

Who Was Missing: The Fever were already without Katie Douglas, Erin Phillips, and Jeanette Pohlen, and star Tamika Catchings also missed the game, scratched earlier that day with a lower back injury.

Most Telling Stat: Indiana’s point guards, Briann January and Layshia Clarendon, combined to shoot 3-for-17 from the field with four turnovers.

Indiana 79, Chicago 58 (August 3)

Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, Ind.)

What Went Down: The Fever defense shut down the Sky and handed Chicago its most lopsided loss of the season.

Why They Won: Catchings had one of her stuff-the-stat-sheet games (17 points, 10 rebounds, five steals, and four blocks) and Indiana held the Sky to under 33 percent shooting (20-for-61).

Why They Lost: Sylvia Fowles averaged 11.5 rebounds per game this year, best in the WNBA by almost a rebound and a half. But on this night, Chicago’s center battled foul trouble and grabbed a season-low three boards in 20 minutes, seven less than her Indiana counterpart, Erlana Larkins.

Who Was Missing: The Fever were again without Douglas, but got a boost that night from Pohlen’s return to the lineup (seven points in 16 minutes). Chicago played without Delle Donne, as the rookie sensation missed the game due to a concussion.

Most Telling Stat: Indiana had 15 assists as team, while Chicago had only five.

Indiana 64, Chicago 58 (August 6)

Location: Allstate Arena (Rosemont, Ill.)

What Went Down: For the second time in four days, the Fever held the Sky to a season-low 58 points, while on the other end Indiana’s All-Star duo of Catchings and Shavonte Zellous combined for 32.

Why They Won: The Fever forced Chicago in to 18 turnovers, with Catchings, Zellous, Larkins and Karima Christmas combining for 13 steals.

Why They Lost: The Sky got a bounce-back game from Fowles (14 points and 17 rebounds), but the rest of their offense struggled to find a rhythm. Their other four starters combined to shoot just 12-for-35 (34 percent).

Who Was Missing: Douglas was the only player of note who didn’t play. Delle Donne played her first game since the concussion and looked a little rusty (scoring 12 points in just under 32 minutes).

Most Telling Stat: Indiana hit their free throws (16-for-17, 94 percent), while Chicago didn’t (12-for-20, 60 percent).

Indiana 82, Chicago 77 (September 6)

Location: Allstate Arena (Rosemont, Ill.)

What Went Down: The Fever got a career game out of Briann January and double-doubles from Catchings and Larkins as they beat Chicago for the third straight game.

Why They Won: January was sensational, scoring a career-high 23 points and draining five of her seven attempts from 3-point range.

Why They Lost: The Sky dug themselves into a hole and couldn’t put a charge together until it was too late. Indiana led by double digits from the 8:11 mark in the third quarter until 1:54 remaining in the game.

Who Was Missing: Douglas was still missing for the Fever, as was Phillips, who missed the game with a right eye injury. Chicago was without starting point guard Courtney Vandersloot, who rolled her ankle in pregame warmups.

Most Telling Stat: Nine of the 10 starters scored in double figures. The lone exception? Vandersloot’s replacement in the Sky lineup, Tamera Young, who finished with just four points.

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