Indiana Fever at Atlanta Dream, Game Preview (September 5)

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The Indiana Fever (17-8) come into Philips Arena looking to extend their five-game road winning streak to a franchise high six games while the Atlanta Dream (14-13) are looking to go two games above .500 for the first time this season. This will be the fifth and final regular season meeting between the teams. The Fever lead the season series 3-1 and have outscored the Dream by an average of 78.5-72 in those games.

Indiana, sitting two games behind Connecticut in the Eastern Conference, has already clinched a playoff spot for a WNBA record eighth consecutive year.  The Fever have won five straight and are 7-1 since the Olympic break. Indiana defeated the Chicago Sky 81-64 in their last game on September 1.

Tamika Catchings, coming off her sixth double-double of the year against Chicago (17 points and 10 rebounds), leads Indiana in points (17.7) and rebounds (7.4).  The Fever other key players include Katie Douglas (15.7 ppg, 42.9% 3pt) and Briann January (10.6 ppg, 3.8 apg, 41.3% 3pt).


Atlanta comes into the game six games in back of Connecticut and 3.5 games ahead of fourth place New York with seven games remaining. The Dream have won two straight under coach Fred Williams (2-1). Williams took over as head coach following the firing of Marynell Meadors on August 27. Atlanta is 5-3 since the Olympic break and are 8-6 at home. The Dream defeated Connecticut 87-80 in their last game on September 2.

The Dream are led by the WNBA’s leading scorer Angel McCoughtry (22.3 ppg). McCoughtry is coming off a 24-point effort against Connecticut in her last game on September 2, McCoughtry, leads the WNBA is steals per game (2.8), is one of four players averaging double figures for Atlanta. The other four players averaging double figures are Sancho Lyttle (14.9),  Erika de Souza (11.6) and Lindsey Harding (11.5).

Keys to the Game

Indiana

1. Get Tamika Catchings involved early. Catchings, a threat on both the offensive and defensive end, has scored in double figures in 24 of the Fever’s 25 games and has led the squad in scoring 13 times.

2. 3pt shooting. The Fever are on pace to set a WNBA record for most three pointers in a season. Indiana is averaging 8.36 three-pointers per game and are shooting a league high 41.6% this year.

Leading the barrage of three-pointers is Katie Douglas (2.4-3pters per game), Catchings (1.5-3pters) January (1.5-3pters) and Jeanette Pohlen (1-3pter). For the fourth consecutive season, Douglas has made at least 60 three-pointers.

3. Take an early lead. The Fever are just 4-5 when trailing after the first quarter and 1-5 when trailing at halftime.

4. Win the turnover battle. The Fever are the second best team in the league at protecting the ball as they commit an average of 13.3 turnovers a game. Indiana is also the third team in the league in forcing turnovers (17.2 per game). They are 15-5 when they commit fewer turnovers than their opponents.

5. Play good team defense. The Fever are the second best defensive team in league (73.7 ppg). Indiana has held their opponents to under 70 points in 11 of the last 22 games. They are also second in the league in blocked shots (4.92 blocks per game), fifth in field goal defense and third in three-point defense. 

Atlanta

1. Contain Catchings and Douglas offensively. Douglas, 7-for-9 on three-pointers on August 18 versus the Dream, is averaging 18.5 points a game while Catchings is averaging 16.5 points a game against the Dream.

In the teams previous four meetings, Douglas is shooting 47.2% from the field and 56.5% (13-23) from beyond the three-point line. Catchings is shooting 42% from the field and 43.8% (7-16) from behind the three-point line.

2. Get everyone involved offensively.  Angel McCoughtry, 14 games with at least 20 points, can take over a game offensively but the Dream are more effective when everyone is involved. Lindsey Harding, 4.2 APG, is ninth in the league in assists.

Atlanta has had three players step up their games recently. Erika de Souza, missed the first half of the season, has scored in double-figures the past three games. Tiffany Hayes, 8.7 points a game this season, has stepped up offensively since being inserted in the starting lineup. She is averaging 14.3 points over her last 10 starts. Sancho Lyttle, named Eastern Conference Player of the Week on August 27, has scored in double figures in each of the last six games.

3. Win the rebound battle. Atlanta, averages 34.9 boards a game (sixth in the WNBA), is 11-5 when they outrebound their opponents. The Dream have the fifth best and seventh best rebounders in the league in de Souza (7.9) and Sancho Lyttle (7.6). They also have the 10th best offensive rebounder in Armentie Price (2.1).

Indiana is one of the worst rebounding teams in the league as they are outrebounded by an average of 3.36 per game.

4. Control the paint and tempo. Atlanta has a distinct height advantage as they have five players 6-3 or taller while Indiana has three players taller than 6-4. The Dream have started to play better since de Souza returned from the suspended list (she was preparing for the Olympics). De Souza is shooting 47% from the field and averaging 3.4 offensive boards a game since her return. 
Atlanta is third in league in blocked shots with 4.6 a game.

The Dream likes to push the tempo. Atlanta, has reached the century mark three times, is 10-3 when they score at least 80 points.

5. Get out to an early lead. The Dream are 9-4 when leading at halftime. 

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