They played a pretty good brand of defense all season long and in the first round of the playoffs. You have to wonder what happened to that approach in game one of the WNBA Finals, as the Indiana Fever allowed a whopping 120 points to their opposition in route to losing in overtime to Phoenix.
Rebounds and second chance points were a glaring area, as the Mercury shot 50 percent from the field and found their way to the foul line an incredible 38 times, connecting on 32 on the attempts.
Phoenix had six players in double figures and allowed Indiana just six offensive rebounds, while garnering 12 of their own.
To have a chance in game two, the Fever must improve their transition defense and prohibit Phoenix from driving through the lane for easy attempts. They must also do a much better job collectively in crashing the boards and limiting the Mercury to just one shot per possession as much as possible.
Sounds simple right? Not with the talent that Phoenix has on its roster. The Mercury will look to push the basketball up the floor in a rapid fashion and shoot it quickly, so it is imperative for the Fever to establish a presence in the paint and hold their own on the boards if they are to have any chance of capturing game two and head home to the friendly confines of Conseco Fieldhouse tied at one game a piece. Indiana indeed has their hands full.
Notes: Prediction? The Fever will be emotionally drained from a game one they should have taken and will not be able to match the intensity of the Mercury. As a result they will fall in a rather easy fashion to Phoenix and head back to Indianapolis down two games to none. Memo to our Ladies Of Summer: Please feel free to prove me wrong, as nothing would make me happier than for me to have to eat my words. (I really mean that.)
Look for Tamika Catchings to come out of her game one funk and play like the All Star that she truly is. It all starts and stops with her, and if the Fever are going to win the WNBA title, she must have a monster series from here on out.
After game two, the series shifts to Indianapolis for game three on Sunday, Oct. 4 at 4 p.m. and game four on Wednesday Oct. 7 at 7:30 pm. Both games will be televised on ESPN2. There are still tickets available at the Conseco Fieldhouse box office, which can be reached at (317) 917-2727 or at Ticketmaster.com
Danny Bridges, who feels the WNBA Finals are certainly just as entertaining as the NBA Finals, can be reached at (317) 578-1780 or Bridgeshd@aol.com.