Fever won regular-season series 3-1

Updated: August 29, 2005, 6:22 PM ET
Associated Press

Three days after the Indiana Fever routed the New York Liberty on the final day of the regular season, the teams open their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series Tuesday (ESPN2, 7:30 p.m. ET) with a matchup at Madison Square Garden.

MORE ON THE SERIES
For more coverage of the Indiana-New York series, check out the following links:

• Lieberman: Fever-Liberty
• Voepel: Don't overlook Fever
• Playoff schedule
• WNBA.com's playoffs coverage
• Playoff rosters: No Wauters

Indiana, which set a franchise record for victories this year, won three of four meetings this season with New York, including a 75-50 rout in Indianapolis on Saturday.

The Fever shot 51 percent from the field and went 8-for-18 from 3-point range. Indiana's MVP candidate, Tamika Catchings, went 4-for-8 from the field for 11 points, but has averaged just 8.8 points and shot 33 percent (13-for-39) in the series.

Also on Saturday, guard Kelly Miller scored 13 points, her average in the regular-season series against the Liberty.

"We've been pretty relaxed, and we wanted to come and feel good going into the playoffs,'' Miller said.

Although Indiana coach Brian Winters was pleased with his team's performance, he expects a more contested matchup on Tuesday.

"We shot the ball well tonight,'' Winters said. "I think we had a pretty good flow going. It's going to be a totally different game in New York. They're a very good team, an experienced team with a lot of playoff experience.''

The Liberty won five straight from Aug. 10-20 to get into the playoffs, but lost their last three games of the season.

New York's lone win this year against Indiana was at Madison Square Garden on July 31, but the Fever won there in late May. With Games 2 and 3 to be played in Indiana, where the Fever went 14-3 this season, the Liberty need to get off to a good start at home.

"The Fever are a good team,'' said Liberty forward Crystal Robinson, who had 19 points on Saturday. "We are a good team. It should be an intense, good playoff series.''

New York comes into this series short-handed as center Ann Wauters, who will miss the playoffs with a broken bone in her right hand. Wauters averaged just more than 19 points in three games against Indiana this season.

The Liberty could also be without leading rebounder Elena Baranova, who missed the season finale against Indiana with a sprained right ankle she suffered Friday in the closing minutes of a loss against Charlotte.

New York coach Pat Coyle dismissed Saturday's final score because the starters played an average of 18.2 minutes to avoid further injuries.

"Our goal tonight was to play the players on the bench and not get anybody hurt,'' Coyle said.

Veteran La'Keshia Frett will start at center and Shameka Christon would get the nod at forward if Baranova can't go.

Game 2 is Thursday at Conseco Fieldhouse.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press