Fever, Lynx to meet in WNBA Fi­nals in re­match

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY DOUG FEIN­BERG

Four years ago, Tamika Catch­ings and the In­di­ana Fever came into the WNBA Fi­nals as a huge un­der­dog to Min­nesota.

Catch­ings and her squad put forth an in­cred­i­ble ef­fort to pull off the up­set, knock­ing off the Lynx in four games to win their only cham­pi­onship in fran­chise history.

Now the Lynx stand in the way again of the Fever, who, as Catch­ings put it, weren’t even ex­pected to make it out of the first round of the play­offs. The se­ries will be­gin Sun­day in Min­nesota.

“No­body thought we’d win the first se­ries,” Catch­ings said. “No one thought we’d win this round. No one thinks we’ll win the fi­nals. We’re not done yet.”

Catch­ings, who an­nounced she’s re­tir­ing at the end of next sea­son, has willed her team to vic­to­ries. The Fever won the fi­nal two games in the open­ing round against Chicago. Then, against New York, the Fever swept the fi­nal two con­tests, ral­ly­ing from an 18-point deficit in the sec­ond quar­ter in Game 2 to force Tues­day’s con­test, which they won 66-51.

“This is awe­some,” Catch­ings said. “If you had asked me be­fore the sea­son if I’d be sit­ting right here, we’re go­ing to try, I don’t know. To be sit­ting here means a lot for the or­ga­ni­za­tion, for my team.”

Al­most ev­ery­one thought Min­nesota would be play­ing for a cham­pi­onship. It was the pre­sea­son fa­vorite to win a third cham­pi­onship in five sea­sons, and the Lynx nearly have Olympians at ev­ery po­si­tion, head­lined by Maya Moore.

Still, Catch­ings has found a way to will her team to vic­to­ries. In­di­ana is 8-2 in elim­i­na­tion games the past four sea­sons, and Catch­ings is a main rea­son why. She’s av­er­aged 20.4 points in those con­tests. She had 14 points and a bunch of key de­fen­sive plays in the win over the Lib­erty on Tues­day night.

She’ll have her hands full with the Lynx and Moore. The 2014 MVP came up with a huge de­fen­sive play at the end of Game 2’s win over Phoenix, and then hit the game-win­ning free throw with 1.5 sec­onds left af­ter a foul call that the league later said never should have been made. She fin­ished with a play­off ca­reer-best 40 points.

“You just keep play­ing un­til the last horn,” Moore said. “I was just an­tic­i­pat­ing them pass­ing the ball in­side and just tried to get a de­flec­tion. That’s what I’ve been try­ing to do all year, lead my team in de­flec­tions.”

AP

In­di­ana Fever for­ward Tamika Catch­ings #24 re­acts against the New York Lib­erty dur­ing the sec­ond half in Game 3 of the WNBA bas­ket­ball Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nals at Madi­son Square Gar­den in New York, Tues­day, Sept. 29.

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