Sky-Fever Preview

The Associated Press

While the second-place Indiana Fever remain in contention for the Eastern Conference's top spot, they haven't been paying much attention to the standings.

They're more concerned about their efforts on the court, where they've proven nearly unbeatable since the Olympic break.

Indiana tries for a season-high fifth consecutive victory overall and a five-game season sweep of visiting Chicago, which could be without Sylvia Fowles again Saturday night.

After posting a 10-7 record before the London Games, the Fever (16-8) have proven more formidable in winning six of seven since the break.

They won 76-63 at New York on Thursday behind a game-high 22 points from Tamika Catchings and 15 from Katie Douglas. Each team got out to a sluggish start before Indiana pulled away behind a 27-point fourth quarter.

"This was a game we needed to win," Catchings said. "We came out really focused and determined to do a good job. I don't think we started the game off the way that we should've and are capable of. The third quarter in the first couple of minutes, we got the rhythm getting up and down the court."

Thursday's result kept Indiana within 2 1/2 games of first-place Connecticut in the East.

"My goal for this team is to continue to get better and not really focus where we stand in the playoff (race)," Catchings added. "Just be concerned every single game with who we're playing.

"Coming back from the break into the second half we wanted to focus and get a sense of urgency and I feel we're starting to play with that. ... We have to continue to build off that."

The Fever have to like their chances of doing just that with the Sky (9-15) coming to town.

Indiana has taken five straight matchups in this series, including all four this season by an average of 9.0 points. The Fever, though, got all they could handle in the most recent meeting July 7, overcoming Fowles' 24 points and 16 rebounds to win 88-86 in overtime.

It's unknown if Fowles, averaging 17.6 points and a league-leading 11.4 boards, will be available in this game after missing the Sky's last two due to personal reasons. Chicago was able to get by without Fowles during Sunday's 82-70 win at Connecticut, snapping a nine-game losing streak, but it clearly missed her two days later in the back end of a home-and-home set, falling 83-72.

While the Fever appear to have a good chance at making a deep run in the playoffs, the Sky are just hoping to get in. Seeking its first-ever postseason appearance, Chicago sits in the fourth and final spot in the East - one-half game ahead of New York.

The Sky, though, will likely need to pick up the pace if they hope to hold off the Liberty. Chicago has dropped 14 of 16 following a 7-1 start.

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