Liberty-Fever Preview

The Indiana Fever just defeated the New York Liberty and play two of their final three games against them.

It'll only take one more victory over New York for the Fever to clinch an Eastern Conference playoff spot and put the Liberty on the brink of elimination, and their next chance comes Thursday night in Indiana.

The Liberty (13-18) play their final three games against two of the teams they're chasing for a playoff spot. New York, however, faces a near must-win situation against the Fever as another loss would put it two games back of Indiana (14-17) while conceding the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Such a loss would also make it impossible to catch Chicago, and New York would be relying on two wins and two Washington losses to squeak in.

"That's what New York is about, isn't it?" guard Cappie Pondexter said. "Gritting it out at the finish. Teams have gone on (in sports) to do that and win the whole thing."

The Fever have won four straight in the series, including 90-76 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday to overtake the Liberty for fourth place.

Indiana shot a season-high 57.4 percent, while Tamika Catchings scored a season-best 29 points to lead the team in ending a three-game skid.

"I think we came out with a playoff mentality," Catchings said. "It's been disappointing the highs and lows we've been playing with, underachieving as a team and we wanted to come out and focus on just playing hard for four minutes at a time."

Catchings didn't play in the previous meeting, a 70-66 home win May 31, and she's averaging 24.7 points over her last three appearances against the Liberty.

Pondexter had 18 points Sunday while Tina Charles scored 17 with a season-low two rebounds.

"They definitely wanted it more," Charles said. "They saw where they were in the playoff race and wanted to get this one. Catch had 20 in the first half. We have to come out with that energy and intensity."

The New York center had a bigger game Tuesday against Phoenix, scoring 26 points with 12 rebounds, but the Liberty fell 76-64 to drop one game behind the Fever and help create Thursday's dire scenario.

Indiana plays two of its last three at home, where it has gone a WNBA-worst 5-10.

"I don't know what it is," Catchings said. "I don't know. One thing I think of is distraction. You get to a city, you're in a hotel, when you're at home, you got friends and family and a lot of things going on. We need to focus and put our foot down. This week is so important for us to make the playoffs."

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