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INDIANAPOLIS (AP)

The Fever finally solved New York's Cappie Pondexter.

Now, Indiana faces another thorn in its side, Atlanta's Angel McCoughtry.

The Fever reversed their recent history against Pondexter in the Eastern Conference semifinals, holding her to 34 percent shooting and winning the series against New York 2-1.

If Indiana can have similar success against McCoughtry in the Eastern Conference finals, the Fever likely will advance to the WNBA finals for the second time in three years. If not, Atlanta would stand a good chance of reaching the finals for the second straight season.

Fever forward Tamika Catchings said defending McCoughtry will be a team effort, starting in Game 1 of the best-of-three series Thursday at Conseco Fieldhouse.

McCoughtry averaged 23.8 points and shot 49 percent from the field in four games against the Fever this season, all wins for Atlanta.

''I think the best thing for me or for Katie (Douglas) or for whoever's guarding her, it's really just going to be trying to keep her in front of us,'' Catchings said. ''Everybody's going to have to be consistently watching Angel.''

Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors knows that Catchings, a four-time WNBA defensive player of the year, will challenge McCoughtry.

''I think she's going to be a very physical defender, and always is,'' Meadors said. ''We'll have to match her intensity.''

Pondexter gave the Fever ideal preparation for facing McCoughtry. Douglas, among others, bothered Pondexter and kept her from getting comfortable.

''I thought they did a great job on her,'' Meadors said. ''They held her down, and if you hold Cappie down, usually, you're going to beat New York.''

McCoughtry, like Pondexter, was in a shooting slump in her conference semifinal series. She shot 9 for 33 in Atlanta's matchup with Connecticut, but the Dream still swept the Sun 2-0. That has given the third-seeded Dream an extra dose of confidence.

''When you looked at our wins, it was balanced scoring, a balanced attack, and that's extremely hard to defend,'' Atlanta's Lindsey Harding said. ''Definitely, we'd love to take Angel's 35 points, but you can't just look at her points. She does so many other things to help us win.''

Indiana is 15-4 at home including the playoffs, but 0-2 at Conseco Fieldhouse against the Dream. Even with the No. 1 seed in the East, Indiana has embraced the underdog role because of the regular-season results.

''The pressure's not really on us, the pressure's on them because everybody's expecting them to beat us,'' Catchings said. ''It's win or go home time. We really want to play for a championship and really feel like we have a championship caliber team.''

Atlanta considers the regular-season results irrelevant.

''It means nothing,'' Meadors said. ''Absolutely nothing. Right now we're 2-0 in the playoffs and that's the way we're looking at it.

Indiana was competitive with Atlanta during the season, losing the four games by a total of 25 points.

Catchings missed the final game between the teams, but she averaged 21.3 points and 6.0 rebounds in the three she played before resting in the regular-season finale against the Dream.

Douglas averaged 22 points in the series against New York.

''Katie is shooting extremely well,'' Meadors said. ''She's a crafty guard, and she's a tall guard. We'll have to do a really good job of defending her, too. She's deadly with that 3-point shot.''

The Fever turned the ball over a combined 36 times in the final two regular-season games between the teams, leading to 46 Atlanta points. Douglas said the Fever can't afford to have any more mistake-filled games against the Dream.

''We really need to keep them on their heels at all levels, all facets of the game - rebounding, transition,'' Douglas said. ''We need to really take care of the ball and get quality possessions.''

Atlanta has won a road game in its past three Eastern Conference playoff series, so the Dream are comfortable with their task.

''I think last year we were in uncharted territory,'' Meadors said. ''This year, we know what it's all about. Last year we went all the way to the finals and we just know what we have to do to get there. We may or may not be able to do that, but we're going to give it everything we have to get to that same position as last year.''

--

AP Sports Writer Charles Odum in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cliffbruntap

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