Indiana Fever Host Atlanta Dream In East Final

By: Michael Robinson | Monday, September 26, 2011

The ’over’ is 8-1-1 in the last 10 road games for the Atlanta Dream.

The Indiana Fever and Atlanta Dream play the deciding Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night and the foot injury to Tamika Catchings is the big question mark.

The Don Best odds screen lists the Fever as 2½-point favorites and a 157½-point total for the contest that will the tip from Conseco Fieldhouse coming at 8:00 p.m. (ET). The winner of this game will meet the red-hot Minnesota Lynx for the WNBA title.

Indiana (24-15 straight up, 21-17-1 against the spread) lost Game 2 at Atlanta on Sunday, 94-77 as 5-point underdogs. Catchings pulled down nine rebounds, but was carried off the floor in the fourth quarter and is listed as doubtful on the Don Best injury report.

The 6-foot-1 forward Catchings averaged 15.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists during the regular season. That helped her just win league MVP.

If Catchings can’t go, then a number of Fever players will need to step up. Guard Katie Douglas has already done so, averaging 20.4 PPG in the five playoff games and leading the team in scoring (25) last game.

The 32-year-old Catchings has been mortal this postseason (10.8 PPG), shooting just 33.3 percent from the field. However, her all-around production would be sorely missed and it’s a real emotional blow to the team.

The good news for Indiana is returning home where it went 13-4 SU and 12-5 ATS during the regular season. The playoffs have been more of the same (3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS). This series opener was an 82-74 win as 2 ½-point home favorites. Five players scored in double-digits, led by Tangela Smith’s 25.

Atlanta finished 20-14 SU in the regular season, one game back of both Indiana and Connecticut in the Eastern Conference. The team rebounded from an awful 3-9 SU start to finish 17-5 SU (13-8-1 ATS).

The Dream are continuing to be a nightmare for their opposition this postseason, sweeping two games from Connecticut and now having the momentum this series. The big change last game was Iziane Castro Marques replacing Erika de Souza in the starting lineup. Castro Marques responded with a season-high 30 points.

The 6-foot-5 de Souza is the team’s starting center, but left to play a game for the Brazilian national team. She is out for the remainder of the series. Ironically, the 6-foot swingman Castro Marques could have also played for the Brazilian team, but chose not to.

Forward Angel McCoughtry also added 27 points last game and she easily led Atlanta in scoring during the regular season (21.6 PPG). The All-Star had been struggling in the playoffs (much like Catchings), 13 PPG and 31 percent shooting over the first three games.

Atlanta is much smaller now without de Souza and took advantage of the speed with a 25-11 advantage in fast break points. Indiana needs to win this game with rebounding, even if Catchings is out.

The Dream are 10-9 SU and 8-10-1 ATS overall on the road this year. The ‘over’ is 8-1-1 in their last 10 games away. The one ‘under’ came in this series opener when the 156 combined points scored just couldn’t reach the 158-point total.

Atlanta won all four regular season meetings between the teams (3-1 ATS). The ‘over’ is 5-1 in the six meetings overall this year.

Neither of these teams have won an WNBA title, but each has been in the finals recently. Atlanta lost to Seattle last year and Indiana was defeated by Phoenix in 2009.

 
 
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