Sky-Fever Preview

The Associated Press

The Chicago Sky's first playoff experience will be quick and disappointing if they can't bounce back from a home loss to the Indiana Fever in the opener of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The defending WNBA champion Fever look to close out the top-seeded Sky as the series shifts to Indianapolis on Sunday for Game 2.

The Fever used some hot shooting to stun Chicago 85-72 on Friday. Indiana, the only team in the playoffs with a sub-.500 record during the regular season, went 10 for 16 from 3-point range and shot 50.8 percent overall.

"Anytime we shoot 50 percent from the field, we have a great chance to win," coach Lin Dunn told the team's official website.

"I am thrilled to come in here short-handed and win this game. This is a great win for us because Chicago is a great team. We know they'll give us their best shot on Sunday."

The Fever played, as they have most of the season, without All-Star Katie Douglas due to a lower back injury. The team announced Saturday that she will miss the rest of the playoffs. Douglas averaged 15.0 points in four games this year.

The season-high 85-point output included five Indiana scorers in double figures, led by Shavonte Zellous with 20. Indiana's previous season high also came at Chicago in an 82-77 win Sept. 6.

Chicago went 5-6 this season when giving up at least 80 points. Again allowing the Fever, who yielded a league-low 70.5 per game, to crack 80 is something Sky coach Pokey Chatman would like to avoid.

"There were several defensive shortcomings,'' Chatman said. "When there's too many to remember you know it's been a tough night."

Rookie of the Year Elena Delle Donne led the Sky with 20 points, but had four in the second half.

"When we're playing great defense, getting stops, we're able to run in transition and get the matchups we want,'' Delle Donne said. "But when our defense isn't clicking we tend to struggle offensively.''

While Indiana will be at home as it tries to advance to the conference finals, the home team has lost four of five matchups between the teams this season, including playoffs.

The Fever, though, may be drawing on last year's run to the championship as they go for the upset.

''(The Sky) are very, very good. The missing link is playoff experience, and that's what they're getting this year, and it's going to be so good for them for the future,'' Dunn said. ''They're young, they're getting the experience of what it's like to be in the playoffs, and we certainly didn't think we had the advantage.''

It's a theory that her counterpart doesn't necessarily believe.

''I don't knock Lin's comment for playoff experience,'' Chatman said. ''I mean that's great for you guys to write about, but it boils down to 94 by 50, 10 feet, 11 players cutting and screening, 50-50 balls.''

The Sky took one of two in Indiana during the regular season, though they were blown out 79-58 in the most recent meeting there Aug. 6.

Chicago is trying to avoid becoming the fourth No. 1 seed to lose in the first round since the league expanded to an eight-team playoff in 2000.

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