Lynx-Fever Preview

The Associated Press

After locking up home court through the first round of the playoffs, the second-place Indiana Fever have their sights set on the Eastern Conference's top spot.

They could have a hard time gaining ground, though, with a couple of matchups against the WNBA's best team in store.

The Fever try for a ninth win in 10 games Friday night as they open a home-and-home set against the visiting Minnesota Lynx, who aim to get back on track following a rare loss.

Sitting 1 1/2 games behind conference-leading Connecticut with five to play, Indiana (20-9) is likely to have its hands full in these next two games - not to mention next Wednesday's pivotal road matchup against the Sun.

The Fever, though, enter the weekend riding plenty of momentum after beating Seattle 72-48 on Wednesday for their third consecutive victory. Katie Douglas had 16 points while Tamika Catchings scored 13 for Indiana, which was limited to 33.3 percent shooting but outrebounded the Storm 17-6 on the offensive glass.

"We did what we needed to do to win," coach Lin Dunn said. "We are happy to get our 20th win and home court for the first round of the playoffs. We will now get refocused to play the defending champions on Friday."

The Fever and Lynx (24-5) have split their two-game season series in the past three years, with each team going unbeaten on the other's court. They'll also meet Monday in Minnesota.

While the Lynx have won four straight in Indiana, the Fever have outscored opponents by an average of 15.6 points during a season-best six-game winning streak at home. Indiana hasn't won seven consecutive home games since May 23-July 8, 2010.

"When you look at the success we've had with the core group we've built around, it just shows the focus and how far our team has gone," Catchings said. "On another hand, we need to get over the hump when you're that consistent and need to get to the playoffs and win a championship."

The Lynx look poised to make another title run but still appear to have some room left for improvement. Minnesota struggled in the early going Tuesday and saw its 11-game winning streak - the longest single-season run in team history - come to an end with an 83-70 loss at Chicago.

Minnesota's 18 turnovers led to 19 points for the Sky, who outscored the Lynx 17-7 in the second quarter.

"We have started a bad habit with not coming out (with) good efforts in the first half and make storybook second-half comebacks," Maya Moore said after scoring 18 points. "Tonight we couldn't finish that storybook comeback."

Moore averaged 19.5 points against Indiana as a rookie last year - 4.9 more than her career mark.