7:00 PM ET, June 2, 2012
The Indiana Fever and New York Liberty have for the most part been regular participants in the Eastern Conference playoffs over the last several years.While Indiana is hoping to finally realize its championship aspirations, New York likely needs to turn things around quickly if it plans to contend.In a rematch of last season's conference semifinals, the unbeaten Fever look to match their best start in franchise history Saturday night against the visiting Liberty, who try to avoid opening 0-5 for the first time in the opener of this home-and-home set.Coming off its seventh consecutive postseason appearance, Indiana (3-0) looks primed to make a deep run in 2012. Led by reigning league MVP Tamika Catchings, the Fever are enjoying their best start since winning their first four games in both 2006 and 2007."I want to win a championship," she said. "For me, every single game, every single practice is about trying to help this team get better and get closer to our final goal."While Indiana has its sights set on winning it all, New York is just hoping to get in the win column.After making the playoffs six of the last eight years, it's safe to say the Liberty have their work cut out. New York was blown out 100-74 at Atlanta on May 25, matching their 0-4 start from 2006 when they went a franchise-worst 11-23."To be honest, tonight might have been one of the worst performances of my career, but I am staying positive," said Cappie Pondexter, who scored a team-high 18 points. "I am upset inside and I need to do a personal assessment, but we have (a few) days off to come back with a new mindset."The Fever split four regular-season matchups with the Liberty last season before knocking them out of the playoffs and ultimately falling to Atlanta in the conference finals. Indiana, though, posted its second win over the Dream this season Sunday by 78-62 score.Catchings had a game-high 25 points to go along with 12 rebounds and Katie Douglas scored 16 for the Fever, who had to battle back from an early 11-point deficit. Although Indiana had little issue the rest of the way, Catchings knows her team needs to bring it from the opening tip."I know for me and speaking for the rest of us, looking at this season and knowing what we want to do, ultimately our goal is to win a championship," Catchings said. "I thought our energy was really low to start the game. I don't know if because it was an early game or whatever the case may be, but we can't afford to have starts like that."Douglas averaged 19.4 points -- significantly higher than her career mark of 13.3 -- against New York last season, including 22.0 in the playoffs.These teams meet again Sunday at the Prudential Center.