Liberty and Fever set to play decisive Game 3
NEW YORK (AP) Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said all along that New York would win the championship if it wins all its home games.
The top-seed in the East will host its second decisive Game 3 of the playoffs when it plays Indiana on Tuesday night.
''We played all year long to have the home-court advantage, that's what we play for, and here we are,'' Laimbeer said on Monday. ''It's not unexpected, we would have liked it to have closed out, but it is what it is. In our building, going to be a big crowd, a lot of fun and go play our good style of basketball.''
New York was up 15 points at the half on Indiana in Game 2 before the Fever rallied behind Tamika Catchings to force Game 3.
''The second half, we came out with new intensity, new urgency,'' Fever coach Stephanie White said. ''Obviously, Tamika did everything Tamika does to get her teammates to rise to the occasion.''
Now, just as they did in the semifinals, Indiana will have to find a way to beat a team on its homecourt to advance to the next round.
''We were here for Game 3 when New York beat Washington,'' White said. ''That was an awesome atmosphere. We can utilize it, too. Players love to play in this type of environment. Watching it, this is what it's all about. While they are cheering against you, you can use this electricity to get yourself excited.''
Madison Square Garden should be rocking Tuesday night. The Liberty had 9,600 fans for their Game 3 victory over Washington last Tuesday.
''I'm looking forward to it, I think New York City's looking forward to it,'' Liberty center Tina Charles said. ''I know we're going to have a great crowd to come out and support us so it should be a good night.''
Here are a few keys to Game 3:
REBOUNDING: Each team says that controlling the glass will be key. New York outrebounded Indiana by two in Game 1 and the teams both had 30 boards in Game 2.
''Rebounding is always big, we don't have to beat them on the glass, we just have to stay close,'' White said.
LETDOWN: New York seemed to have Game 2 in hand and was set to advance to the Finals for the first time since 2002 before they collapsed in the fourth quarter, blowing a 12-point lead. Coach Laimbeer wasn't worried about his team bouncing back.
''You're always going to be a little down because you missed an opportunity, but at the same time the sun came up that day so it's a new day and they know that,'' Laimbeer said. ''I mean, they're professional basketball players, they know that tomorrow is tomorrow. Get through what we have to get through today and prepare yourself for a war tomorrow.''
X-FACTOR: Catchings knows that she may not get another chance at the playoffs before she retires after next season. She's making the most of this appearance.
The veteran had 27 points, nine rebounds and six assists in the decisive game against Chicago. Catchings has scored 21 or more in four of the five postseason games and is averaging a career-high 20.8 points in the playoffs after scoring a career-low 13.1 during the regular season.
BEEN HERE DONE THAT: Indiana has won seven of its last nine elimination games. The third-seed trailed in each of the first two rounds in 2012 before winning their lone title.
AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney in Greenburgh, New York contributed to this report
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