Tamika Catchings has been there many times. Right on the edge. Gold within her grasp. But there’s always been something to keep her from her ultimate goal: the WNBA championship.
Last year, it was a foot injury in the Eastern Conference Finals. In the 2009, WNBA Finals, it was Diana Taurasi. Go beyond that and you will find more injuries that hampered a Fever championship run.
So close. That’s what I was thinking five minutes into the first quarter of the Indiana Fever’s decisive battle with the Connecticut Sun for a trip to the 2012 Finals when Fever star Katie Douglas went down with an ankle injury. Outside of Shavonte Zellous’s Game Two heroics where she hit the winning the shot, and Erlana Larkins’ sudden emergence as a star player, Douglas was the only other positive for the Fever in the series. She was averaging nearly 25 points a game against the Sun, her former team. She was shooting over 50 percent. The rest of the Fever, even Catchings, weren’t doing much.
So close. Thankfully, that’s not what the team thought when Douglas went off the court and later left Mohegan Sun Arena in an ambulance, heading toward a hospital for X-rays. I thought, “So close.” They thought, “Let’s win this.”
And win they did. Nobody expected an 87-71 Fever victory. Basketball legend Rebecca Lobo, calling the game for ESPN, had to check her disbelief a couple times as the Fever kept pushing their lead upward. Douglas was gone, so Erin Phillips and Jeanette Pohlen stepped up and hit big three pointers. After a lousy first half, Briann January starting driving inside for layups. Larkins continued to hold her own against Tina Charles, the league’s MVP. Zellous, Jessica Davenport, everyone had a hand in the victory.
And now, the Indiana Fever are on the cusp of a championship. Waiting for them in Minneapolis are the defending champions, the Minnesota Lynx.
This won’t be an easy battle for the Fever, especially if Katie Douglas’s injury is severe and she’s unable to play in the series. The Lynx are fast, young, deep, big. They are not much different from the Phoenix Mercury team the Fever faced in the 2009 Finals.
But if there is one thing the Indiana Fever have done all season it’s exceed expectations. They tied a franchise record for wins. The battled back and eliminated their rivals, the Atlanta Dream. They knocked off the top team in the conference on their home court for a spot in the Finals. The Lynx? It’s just one more challenge.
So close. Just two more wins and Catchings has her trophy, the only thing missing from her career.
The WNBA Finals began last night in Minneapolis, with a 76-70 Fever victory. The Fever return to Banker’s Life Fieldhouse on Friday, October, 19 for Game Three of the series. Tickets are already on sale on Ticketmaster and at the Banker’s Life Fieldhouse box office.