Sports are an amazing thing. Lives are changed, for better or for worse, in the span of just a few seconds. The Indiana Fever‘s 72-67 win over the Detroit Shock Saturday night at Conseco Fieldhouse is the latest example that proves this point. In a 40 minute game that was not decided until Tamika Catchings pulled down the final rebound of the night with less than 10 seconds to go, the Indianapolis based team did more than secure the franchise’s first WNBA Finals appearance. In those final 10 ticks of the clock the Fever exercised the demons of playoffs past.
No longer will the Fever be known as the team the Shock eliminated from the playoffs three straight years. Today the Circle City‘s darlings are the team that knocked out the reigning world champions. While all of Indiana is now hoping for the chance to celebrate our newest world champions, the road to this point was anything but easy.
Game 1 of this series saw the Fever looking like the teams of old in an embarrassing 72-56 loss. Game 2 brought the action to downtown Indianapolis where the Fever squeaked out a hard-fought 79-75 victory. So it all came down to game 3 on Saturday night. Win and they are in, lose and the naysayers come out of the woodwork saying it was the same story different year.
The two teams were both sharp early, trading baskets and the lead for much of the first half. With only a two point lead at the break, the more than 18,000 Fever fans in attendance where trying not to let their nerves get the best of them. Both teams came out a bit cautious in the third quarter, neither side wanting to let the game get away from them. With Detroit outscoring Indiana 12-9, the Shock held a one point lead heading into the final ten minutes.
Was Detroit going to break 18,000 Hoosier hearts yet again? This question floated through the air for what seemed like an eternity. Both teams were making big time play after big time play, not letting the other out of their sights. The difference on this night was Indiana’s superb free-throw shooting. After a horrible performance from the charity strip in game 2, that allowed Detroit to hang around, Indiana came up huge hitting 28 of their 31 opportunities.
The big scorer for the Fever in game 3 was their big center Tammy Sutton-Brown, who finished with 17 points and 7 rebounds. Katie Douglas added 14 of her own while the teams emotional leader, Tamika Catchings finished up with 10 points 8 rebounds 5 assists and 3 steals. Catchings was also named the 2009 WNBA defensive player of the year earlier in the week.
So what lies ahead for the Fever? A battle of #1 seeds. While Indiana finished tops in the Eastern Conference with an overall record of 22-12, the league’s best record went to the Phoenix Mercury out of the west with a mark of 23-11. This translates to the Mercury grabbing home-court advantage in the best-of-five WNBA Finals. With its 2-2-1 setup, Indianapolis will host game 3 and game 4 if needed. The series tips off on Tuesday night at 9 p.m.
Check back with us here at funcityfinder.com on Tuesday morning to get your Game 1 preview.