Dream-Fever Preview


Home court hasn't been much of an advantage in the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Indiana Fever and Atlanta Dream.

League leading scorer Angel McCoughtry is confident that will continue Tuesday night in the deciding Game 3, and she has plenty of reason to feel that way after her performance in last postseason's series-clinching win at Indiana.

Winners of seven of eight at home entering their eighth consecutive postseason appearance, the second-seeded Fever lost their home-court edge in Game 1, falling 75-66. Indiana won by an average of 11.0 points in Atlanta's two regular-season visits.

After shooting 40.0 percent in Game 1, Indiana made 53.1 percent (34 of 64) of its shots in Sunday's 103-88 victory over Atlanta, which had won its last five regular-season home games. The Fever had six players in double-figure scoring for the first time in 2012.

"Indiana came out firing and some shots they didn't hit in Game 1 they hit in this game," said Dream coach Fred Williams, whose team is 6 for 27 from 3-point range this series.

Atlanta could improve its chances of knocking out the Fever for the second straight season if it can slow down Briann January and Tamika Catchings. January scored 11 of her 24 points in the third quarter Sunday while Catchings poured in 18 points in the fourth – one shy of the WNBA record for one quarter – to finish with 25.

"I can't say enough about Catchings and January," said Indiana coach Lin Dunn, whose team is trying to advance to the conference finals for the fourth time in six seasons. "They just willed this team to come back from the loss Friday night. Now we're even."

The same was true after two games last year when these clubs met in the conference finals, but Indiana was not at full strength in the 83-67 loss in Game 3. Catchings, playing a limited role due to plantar fasciitis in her right foot, had six points and five rebounds.

Even though Catchings was not at full strength, the Fever had no answer for McCoughtry, who finished with 26 points to help Atlanta advance to its second consecutive WNBA finals.

"Even if we didn't win Game 3 last year we would still have the confidence going in there," said McCoughtry, who has 38 points in this series. "We're going to go up there and just play like we did last game and do what we need to do to take this series."

The Fever, though, return home with similar confidence. They went 13-4 at home in the regular season and haven't lost two straight there since July 30 and Aug. 3, 2010.

"It's always good to go home," January said. "It's our home court and we want to protect it. We have given ourselves that opportunity by playing hard this season and getting home-court advantage."

Tuesday's winner will face No. 1 seed Connecticut in the conference finals.