'I’m excited to go home.' Indiana Fever finish gauntlet of opening road schedule.

LAS VEGAS — When the final buzzer sounded in Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night, Indiana Fever players knew it was finally time.

Time to go back to Indianapolis, and not to another West Coast destination. Time to sleep in their own beds and use their own facilities.

“I’m excited to go home,” Fever guard Lexie Hull said postgame.

The Fever have had one of (if not the) toughest schedules to start the 2024 WNBA season. They played seven games in 12 days, five on the road. Three came in the past four days — Wednesday at Seattle, Friday at Los Angeles and Saturday at Las Vegas.

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“It was tough, but that's just our league,” coach Christie Sides said. “And that's what we have this year with the Olympic break. We just got to step up and be ready for it. We knew what was coming.”

Indiana is the only team in the WNBA to play that many games in such a short stretch. The New York Liberty, Seattle Storm and Washington Mystics have each played six, while Las Vegas played four. The Dallas Wings played the fewest number of games in these 12 days, with three.

The Fever are 1-6. Only the Washington Mystics (0-6) have a worse record.

Not only was the travel schedule itself daunting, but also the opponents. The Fever played the top three teams in the league — the Aces, Liberty and Sun — a combined five times in that stretch.

Indiana walked away 0-5 from those games — the only game the Fever won was against the L.A. Sparks on Friday. Taking away the wins and losses, though, this start to the season was all about learning for the young Fever team.

“It's hard being on the road like this and playing the teams that we have, but at the end of it — in the middle of it, even — we're gonna be prepared for what's to come because we've had these tough games to start this season,” second-year center Aliyah Boston said. “We've had these rough moments where we’re continuing to figure out us, continue to figure out how to be fluid on the court. It’s gonna pay off in the end, but it’s good to go home.”

Indiana ended its road trip with a 99-80 loss in Las Vegas, and the Fever were playing on the second day of a back-to-back. The players were exhausted — they played in Los Angeles on Friday night, then immediately jumped on a plane to Las Vegas before they could sleep in a hotel bed.

Still, they didn’t show it in the first quarter. The Fever were full of energy, exploding out to a 28-24 lead with a dominating 16 paint points in the first 10 minutes. Then, it fizzled out.

It was understandable they were tired. But as Las Vegas methodically increased its lead to five, 10, and eventually 19 points by the end of the game. It was a lesson in how the Fever need to keep the energy alive in every game — no matter the circumstances.

“We talked about it several times,” Sides said, “But we just got to get back to having that energy and firing the basketball that we had in the first quarter.”

This week, the Fever will have two days without a game for the first time since the season started. Sunday and Monday will be an off day and a practice day, respectively, before the Sparks come to Indianapolis for a rematch on Tuesday. That will kick off four games in six days, as the Fever will also play the Storm, the Chicago Sky and the Liberty (for a third time this season).

“Playing against the champions, playing against the New York’s, the Connecticut’s, these are the best teams in the league,” Sides said. “That's just gonna help us be ready for these next couple of weeks when we get to play the same teams again, and have this experience under our belt.”

Follow IndyStar Fever Insider Chloe Peterson on X at @chloepeterson67.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indiana Fever make progress, finish gauntlet of opening road schedule