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Monday, April 22, 2024

Fever end season on 18-game losing streak

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The Fever’s 2022 season has ended with a 95-83 loss on the road to the Washington Mystics. It was the team’s 18th loss in a row to wrap up another challenging year.

Indiana finished the season with a 5-31 record, which was the worst in the WNBA. That ties the most losses in a WNBA season, and it’s the second consecutive season that the Fever have been at the bottom of the league standings. The franchise hasn’t made the WNBA Playoffs since 2016.

“That’s very tough to swallow for me,” Fever interim head coach Carlos Knox said. Knox took over for the team in late May and was 3-24 after being promoted to head coach. “I just have to keep telling myself exactly what this year was about from a developmental standpoint.”

The Fever ended the season going winless in four games against the Mystics. The two teams also played each other in the first game of the year. Washington won every matchup by double digits over Indiana.

The Mystics finished with a 22-14 record and they will be the fifth seed in the playoffs. They’ll face the Seattle Storm in a best-of-three first-round series.

“They have veteran leadership and they are very very in-tune with each other,” Knox said of the Mystics. “When a situation comes up, and it’s time to increase the intensity at that particular moment, I think they do an excellent job.”

“They have a strong core around them,” Fever forward Emma Cannon said. “They’re strong on the outside, and I feel like they have some power behind them.”

Mystics star Elena Delle Donne put up 22 points on Sunday. Sunday’s outing follows a 24-point, seven-rebound performance against Indiana on Friday night. In four games against the Fever this year, Delle Donne averaged 21.5 points and 6.5 rebounds.

“I think she was very successful with us because of her length,” Knox said. “You have to be able to guard her without fouling her, and it’s difficult because she has such a lengthy jump shot.”

Indiana was led in scoring by seventh-year guard/forward Tiffany Mitchell, who had 18 points and seven assists on Sunday. Mitchell is the longest-tenured Fever player as she’s been on the team since her career began in 2016.

Tiffany Mitchell signed a three-year extension with the team in 2020 but this will be her first time as an unrestricted free agent.

“I never really got to go through this process,” Mitchell said after the game. “I look forward to seeing what’s the best situation for me moving forward and I’m embracing the process fully.”

The offseason for the Fever will be all about developing the seven rookies that are on the team. Knox and the team seem eager to see the leap they make.

“Experience is vital in this league and they had to grow up quick, so of course we’re going to have some struggles along the way,” Mitchell said. “Hopefully next year it will just spill over into the knowledge that they learned this year.”

“I’m just really excited for the chance to really work on my game,” rookie Lexie Hull said. “More than half the team came in not knowing what to expect and now we can come in next year with a year under our belts.”

“We want to make sure that we’re heavy in the player development department,” Knox said. “We want to make sure that we are in constant communication with them just to make sure that they’re doing what they need to do to become better players.”

For now, the Fever will spend another year on the outskirts of the playoffs despite making it every year from 2005 to 2016. With an interim general manager, interim head coach and a bevy of young players, this Fever offseason could be one to remember.

Zion Brown is a sports reporter for NextGen Sports, a collaboration with The Recorder Media Group.

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