The Indiana Fever may be the best break-even team in the WNBA though their first 24 games. They seek to continue the solid play they showed in July when they host the Washington Mystics on Saturday night in the first game for both teams since the league took a month-long break for the Rio Summer Olympics.
Don't let the 12-12 record fool you; the Fever have a track record built in past seasons of pacing themselves early on and playing their best basketball as the calendar turns from summer to fall.
Indiana began the 2016 campaign with a 7-11 start but headed to the Olympic break with wins in five of its last six contests.
"Going into the break, we were exactly where we wanted to be," Fever coach Stephanie White said. "We started to really find a rhythm and find a groove. Our chemistry had come together and we were healthy. It was a good time to get a physical break and a mental break and work on the fundamentals."
The final stretch of the 2016 season will be the swan song for Indiana forward Tamika Catchings, who leads the Fever in scoring (13.7 point per game) and will retire at the end of this season after 15 years in the league.
"(Catchings is) logging more minutes than most people do at age 37 and doing it at a very high level," White said. "Give her a lot of credit for having the work ethic and toughness that she has. She has the ability to impact the game in more ways than just her numbers. And she still impacts the stat sheet with her scoring, assists and steals."
Indiana, which has earned a spot in the playoffs for a record 11 consecutive seasons, holds down the fifth spot in the new-look WNBA playoffs, in which the top eight teams, regardless of conference, qualify for the postseason.
Washington, meanwhile, is 9-15 and enters this stretch tied with Seattle for the eighth and final playoff spot.
The Mystics were in a deep freeze as they when to the Olympic break, mired in a seven-game losing streak and scoring an average of just 79.6 points per game, the second fewest in the league.
Washington beat the Fever 76-62 at home on June 22 during a stretch in which it won four times in five games. But the Mystics' last victory was on June 29 against San Antonio and they'll be hard-pressed to duplicate the effort they produced against Indiana earlier in the year.