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Know Your Opponents: New York and Connecticut

Editor’s¬†Note:¬†The Indiana Fever are back in the playoffs, but before the postseason they’ll play two more times. As the Fever tries to secure their playoff seeding and head into the Eastern Conference Semifinals at the top of their game, they’ll face off against two wild card opponents, a pair of teams already eliminated from playoff contention. Here’s a closer look at each of those matchups.

By Rebecca Rider

September 13th: New York (11-21, 8-12 East), 7:00 PM (Live Access) (Buy Tickets)

Last time out: In a closely contested game on Sept. 10, New York lost to Phoenix 80-76, falling out of playoff contention by a combination of their loss and Washington’s win over Indiana. Katie Smith had 17 points in her last home game, while Plenette Pierson notched 15 rebounds.

What’s at stake:¬†Indiana controls its own destiny. By winning its final two games, the Fever would lock into third and a date with the Atlanta Dream in the first round. Should they lose and be passed by Washington in the standings, Indiana would slip to fourth and a first-round match-up against the Chicago Sky. New York has nothing to play for except pride.

Who to watch: Cappie Pondexter missed the game against Phoenix with a bruised right knee, and her status is unknown for this game. If she’s active, she’s immediately the biggest threat on the floor, willing and able to shoot from anywhere, with the ability to find her teammates when the defense collapses on her. But last time she faced Indiana (at the Prudential Center on Aug. 30), she was held to 1-12 shooting and seven points.

Who to look out for: Scrappy sixth woman Alex Montgomery has put up double digits in her last three games, and no loose ball is safe around her.

Fun fact: Shavonte Zellous played in Detroit under head coach Bill Laimbeer, alongside Plenette Pierson, Kara Braxton, Katie Smith, and Taj McWilliams-Franklin.

September 15th: at Connecticut (9-23, 7-13 East), 1:00 PM (Live Access)

Last time out: A lay-up from Mistie Bass put the Sun up for good in their 78-77 win over Atlanta on Sept. 11. Bass had 15 to lead the balanced attack of a depleted Connecticut squad.

What’s at stake: Not much, likely. Connecticut is well out of playoff contention, anchored at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and vying for the league’s worst record. Indiana will be hoping to have sewn up the third seed (a possibility if the Fever beat the Liberty and the Sun tops the Mystics on Friday night) and shift into postseason mode.

Who to watch: There isn’t much left of the Connecticut Sun, who have seen three starters sidelined with various injuries. Without All-Stars Allison Hightower and Tina Charles, along with starting point guard Kara Lawson and rotational player Kelly Faris, the Sun are down to eight players. Streak-shooting Renee Montgomery might be the closest thing to a star they have left.

Who to look out for: The post tandem of Mistie Bass and Kelsey Griffin won’t put up flashy stats, but they’re hard-working defensive players who take advantage of the opportunities that come to them.

Fun fact: Sun coach Anne Donovan was the Fever’s first coach, overseeing Indiana in 2000 while Nell Fortner coached the national team.

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