Fever-Dream Preview

The Associated Press

A lot has changed for the Atlanta Dream since they faced the Indiana Fever less than three weeks ago, particularly for star Angel McCoughtry.

On the other hand, little is different for the streaking Indiana Fever since they last played the two-time defending Eastern Conference champions.

The Fever look to win their sixth straight Wednesday night when they visit McCoughtry and the Dream.

Indiana (17-8) improved to 3-1 against Atlanta (14-13) this year with an 86-72 home victory Aug. 18. McCoughtry had 22 points, but the Dream had no answer for Katie Douglas, who scored a season-high 29, and Tamika Catchings added 17 points and nine rebounds for the Fever.

That defeat preceded a drama-filled two weeks for Atlanta.

After facing the Fever, McCoughtry did not play the next two games due to personal reasons. Soon after, the Dream fired coach Marynell Meadors, and her replacement, Fred Williams, handed down an indefinite suspension of McCoughtry for breaking unspecified rules.

That ban ended up lasting two games, then McCoughtry returned Sunday to score 24 points - 18 in the fourth quarter - in an 87-80 win over conference-leading Connecticut.

"I was so excited," said McCoughtry, who had to sign and comply with a written list of requirements by Williams before being reinstated. "It felt so good to be back on the floor. I'll never take basketball for granted again."

With things having calmed down, the Dream hope they can continue moving forward as they close in on a playoff berth. Atlanta, which now looks to match its season high with a third straight win, is four games back of second-place Indiana.

To close the gap, however, McCoughtry needs some help. The reigning MVP has averaged 22.8 points in the season series with the Fever, but Atlanta has shot 39.3 percent in the four meetings.

Defense also has keyed Indiana's recent run, limiting its last five opponents to an average of 66.6 points. The Fever are looking to win six straight for the first time since a seven-game run last season.

They clinched their eighth straight playoff berth Saturday with an 81-64 victory over Chicago. Briann January scored 19 points while Catchings and Douglas each added 17.

Indiana missed 10 of its first 11 shots but would go on an 18-3 run en route to a 45-31 lead at halftime. The Fever forced 21 turnovers.

"We started the game very sluggish," coach Lin Dunn said. "The good news is we weathered their hot shooting in the first quarter and were able to chip away and really get control of the game in the second quarter."

For the season, the Fever rank among the WNBA's best defensive teams, holding opponents to 73.7 points per game.

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