7:00 PM ET, September 7, 2011
Locked in a tight race for the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Indiana Fever know they control their own destiny.The Fever can clinch home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs Wednesday night by completing a season sweep of the visiting Washington Mystics.Indiana (20-11) is trying to hold off surging Connecticut for the East's top spot. The Fever ended a three-game slide with Sunday's 88-80 victory at Chicago."We have been a first-place team, but Connecticut is on a run here," coach Lin Dunn said. "We have a lot of teams playing really well, so we really needed to win this game, plus we were coming off some tough losses."Dunn's team only needs one more win to wrap up the home-court edge in the opening round because it's 2 1/2 games ahead of New York and Atlanta, which are tied for third place in the East.Tamika Catchings and Katie Douglas scored 17 points apiece Sunday as Indiana placed four players in double figures."Coming off of three losses, I think, just to come out and have a great performance that was No. 1 on our minds right now and I think going into the playoffs, just trying to get that playoff mentality," Catchings said. "We don't want to focus on where you stand in the standings because at the end of the day it really doesn't matter when you get to the playoffs. It is a matter of going into the playoffs with the right mentality."Indiana notched its sixth 20-win campaign in seven seasons. Los Angeles is the only other franchise to accomplish that, doing so between 1999-2006.The Fever are 4-0 against Washington (6-26), winning twice at home by a combined 43 points. Catchings hasn't been needed to put up gaudy numbers in the season series, averaging 13.5 points.The Mystics have lost a season-high seven straight on the road and turned in an awful performance Sunday in their final home game. They set season lows for points and field-goal percentage (26.9) in a 79-48 loss to Connecticut."I think we are physically and mentally tired, three games in four days with a short bench," coach Trudi Lacey said.Star forward Crystal Langhorne made 4 of 13 shots for the second straight game and scored 10 points -- 8.5 below her average."I felt all season that we have competed and we have fought through and overcome a lot of obstacles and challenges," Lacey said. "Today it just didn't feel like we competed."