The New York Liberty (2-3) will host the Indiana Fever (3-3) for the first time since last year’s Eastern Conference finals, when the Fever eliminated the Liberty 2-1. However, neither team has been off to a fantastic start.
Here are key components to watch for Friday.
In the conference finals, the Liberty lost in part because they did not attack and have the whole team working together.
Both teams retooled their rosters during the offseason. But the Fever still revolve around team leader Tamika Catchings, just as the Liberty have done with Tina Charles.
Early offensive struggles, a lack of ball movement and poor shooting have plagued the Fever. This changed when they snapped their two-game skid with a victory this week. Creating opportunities off turnovers and scoring depth is where they heat up.
Charles, who was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month for May on Thursday, has recorded a double-double in every game this season. The All-Star forward leads the league in scoring (23.4 ppg) and rebounding (11.8).
Charles likely will match up with Catchings, whose experience and ability to impact the game in a variety of ways will be a defensive challenge. The WNBA’s second all-time leading scorer and rebounder is averaging 16.3 ppg and 7.4 rebounds for Indiana.
Changing of the guard
Fever guard Maggie Lucas (7.8 ppg) will miss the rest of the season after tearing the ACL in her right knee this week. Rookie guard Tiffany Mitchell, Indiana’s leading scorer at 14.8 points per game, tallied a career-high 19 last game and will look to fill the void.
Slumping on offense, guard Sugar Rodgers will have to lock down on defense to keep Mitchell in check.