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Know Your Opponents: San Antonio, Minnesota, New York

By Rebecca Rider

Retrenching and Reestablishing

The West Coast was not kind to the Fever, as Indiana went 0-3 on their road swing and Shavonte Zellous remained sidelined with plantar fasciitis. A home game Wednesday night may provide a brief respite, but then it’s off to Minnesota and New York for two more tough road contests.

August 21st: San Antonio (9-15), 7:00 PM (LiveAccess) (Get Tickets)

Last time out: The Silver Stars gave a whole new meaning to “going pink” for breast health awareness and knocked off Phoenix 88-82. Danielle Robinson and Danielle Adams each had 20 points.

What’s at stake: San Antonio and Indiana have a lot in common. Both are fighting for fourth in their conference despite battling major injury woes. The Silver Stars sit in fifth in the West, two games behind Seattle.

Who to watch: In the absence of Sophia Young and Becky Hammon, All-Star point guard Danielle Robinson has taken huge steps forward, averaging 11.5 points, 7.0 assists, and 1.4 steals. Were it not for her brightly dyed hair, you might miss her if you blink; she can take it coast to coast in a hurry.

Who to look out for: Then there’s the other Danielle, Danielle Adams. Her size and shooting touch make her a matchup headache – she can take a post outside and a guard inside. She also has a phenomenal knack for drawing contact on the defensive end of the floor. By the barest of decimals, she leads the Silver Stars in scoring with 13.7 points per game.

Fun fact: Indiana’s Jeanette Pohlen and San Antonio’s Jayne Appel went to three Final Fours together with Stanford.

August 24th: at Minnesota (18-6), 6:00PM (LiveAccess, ESPN3)

Last time out: Behind 28 points from Maya Moore and strong fourth-quarter bench play, the Lynx beat down New York, 88-57. The Lynx have a date with Connecticut on the 22nd before hosting Indiana.

What’s at stake: Minnesota’s three-game losing streak before beating New York has severely closed the gap between the Lynx and Los Angeles. Only half a game separates first and second in the West. Both teams may have chips on their shoulders from having this Finals rematch moved off national television.

Who to watch: The trio of Lindsay Whalen (15.7 points, 5.8 assists per game), Seimone Augustus (16.6 points per game on 53.2% shooting), and Maya Moore (17.6 points, 6.1 rebounds) is right up there with the league’s all-time greatest Big Threes. The clash between Moore and Tamika Catchings at forward should be especially interesting.

Who to look out for: The Lynx pride themselves on having “Four to Fear”, and Rebekkah Brunson is a very intimidating presence in the post, averaging 10.5 points and 8.9 rebounds.

Fun fact: Minnesota reserve center Amber Harris is a former Indiana Miss Basketball and a native of Indianapolis.

August 30th: at New York (10-15, 7-9 East), 7:30 PM (LiveAccess, NBA-TV, MSG+)

Last time out: Playing without Cappie Pondexter, New York put up little fight in Minnesota, losing 88-57 to the Lynx. Katie Smith and Alex Montgomery each had 11 points in the loss. New York will have games at Chicago on the 23rd and Connecticut on the 25th before hosting the Lynx on the 27th and Indiana on the 30th.

What’s at stake: “Everything” might be an exaggeration, but it’s likely that only one of these two teams can make the postseason. Indiana has the edge as of this writing, one game up on the Liberty for fourth. New York holds a 2-1 edge in the season series, so this game is crucial to the tiebreaker.

Who to watch: Cappie Pondexter has struggled to adapt to Bill Laimbeer’s concept of the “lead” guard, but she’s still scoring 18.7 points and dishing out 4.1 assists per game. She can light up even the best defense in a hurry with her slashing drives to the lane and long-range shooting.

Who to look out for: When Kara Braxton is on, she’s an unstoppable force of nature in the paint, using every inch of her substantial 6-6 frame to muscle up for rebounds, turn and score in the paint, and generally make opposing posts’ lives miserable. When Kara Braxton is not on, lay-ups regularly result in cacophonous clangs off the rim and she’s prone to fouls. If she’s on, Indiana doesn’t have the size to stop her; if she’s not on, smaller posts can hassle her out of her game.

Fun fact: Both Jessica Davenport and Jessica Breland started their WNBA careers in New York.

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