Indiana knows it can beat the Atlanta Dream because it has done it once this season in what has become the Fever’s only win through the first half of 2018.
But knowing and doing are two different things. Atlanta will get a chance to avenge Indiana’s win, and clinch a tie in the season series, when the teams square off Sunday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis for the third of four regular-season meetings.
The Fever (1-15) host the Dream after getting blown out Friday by the surging Phoenix Mercury 95-77 in a game that was not as close as that runaway score indicates.
Kelsey Mitchell led Indiana with 19 points in its fifth straigh loss. Victoria Vivians, Erica Wheeler and Kayla Alexander contributed 10 points each for the Fever.
At the end of the first half, Indiana left the court with more fouls (16) than made field goals (15). The Fever also faced a 17-point deficit after the Mercury used a decisive 14-2 run in the second quarter to run away.
Indiana went just 4 of 17 from the field in the second quarter
“It was our rhythm and the movement of the ball. It was stagnant,” Vivians said. “Once we’re stagnant, we’ll take bad shots and they’ll get easy layups off those shots.”
Phoenix scored the first seven points of the third quarter and eventually built its lead to 32 points before cruising home.
Mitchell knows the Fever can’t afford to lose in those key moments of the game.
“It’s all about pivotal moments, as Coach Pokey (Chatman) says.” Mitchell said. “It’s crucial that we kind of like stick with it throughout the course of the game and not have those downward little spirals. Same song and dance. Gotta pick it up where we can.”
The Dream (7-8) dropped a hard-fought battle at Minnesota on Friday, falling 85-74. Imani McGee-Stafford led the Dream with 15 points, and Damaris Dantas and Brittney Sykes finished with 14 points apiece.
Atlanta is now 3-6 on the road. The Dream-Fever season series is tied at 1-1, with both teams winning at home.
The Dream have lost four of their past five games and there is no rest for the weary. Atlanta’s game at Indiana will be its eighth on the road in 10 games and the team will have traveled more than 9,200 miles during the 3 1/1-week stretch.
Atlanta guard Renee Montgomery said getting through this tough stretch of games is about “rest and recovery.”
“At this point in the season, it’s hard to get a lot of scouting in, and it’s hard to get a lot of anything in,” Montgomery said. “Basically, you just have to be focused when you come into the game about sets that everyone runs and just legs.
“Once it gets to a point in the season where we’re traveling a lot, you come back and you play a high-octane offense, it’s really about recovery.”
The Fever are 14-8 all time against the Dream at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, having won the past four meetings in Indy.