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Caitlin Clark of the Indiana Fever warms up prior to a game against the Connecticut Sun  at Mohegan Sun Arena on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Uncasville, Connecticut. (Elsa/Getty Images/TNS)
Caitlin Clark of the Indiana Fever warms up prior to a game against the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Uncasville, Connecticut. (Elsa/Getty Images/TNS)

Indiana Fever Week 1 Recap: Three games into the season and Fever still seek first win

Despite all of the hype, the Fever need to win games

Rebuilds don’t happen overnight. The new fans who are watching the WNBA, with their fresh perspective and enthusiasm, are having a hard time accepting that the Indiana Fever are in that process. While we’ve entered the Caitlin Clark pro era, we now just have to sit back and watch it all fall into place, together. 

May 14: Indiana at Connecticut Sun

The Fever tipped off the season on the road against a strong-looking Connecticut Suns team. Alyssa Thomas was the game's star, tallying a triple-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists. However, what made the media more so was Clark's performance. 

Clark finished with 20 points, three assists and two steals in her WNBA debut, but many focused on her 10 turnover statistic. She shot 5-for-15 from the field while 4-for-11 from behind the arc. Still, she found a way to break her name into some history. Her 20 points ranked second in Fever franchise history for points in a debut. Clark sits right behind Hall of Famer Tamika Catchings, who scored 23 in her Fever debut back in 2002. 

The Connecticut Sun's Brionna Jones (42) blocks a shot by the Indiana Fever's Caitlin Clark (22) during the fourth quarter at Mohegan Sun Arena on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Uncasville, Connecticut. (Elsa/Getty Images/TNS)

The Fever played their best basketball in the second and third quarters. By moving the offense efficiently, Indiana was able to keep up with the Sun. However, the team struggled to keep the ball and committed 25 turnovers. 

Aaliyah Boston, the No. 1 pick for the Fever in 2023, failed to contribute in the paint. She finished the game with just four points and six rebounds in 29 minutes played. NaLyssa Smith, a standout in the pre-season games, continued to show that on the floor, contributing 13 points and nine rebounds for the Fever. 

The Sun is a veteran, experienced team, the opposite of the Fever. The final score was 92-71, with Connecticut taking the season opener against the Fever. 

May 16: New York Liberty at Indiana

Next on the schedule were two tough matchups against the New York Liberty, the defending Eastern Conference champions, and two All-Stars on the roster. 

Two-time league MVP Breanna Stewart spoiled the home opener for the Fever as she scored 31 points and had 10 rebounds as the Liberty defeated the Fever 102-66. Sabrina Ionescu followed suit with 14 points and seven assists. 

This game was challenging for the Fever as no one could get going offensively. The Liberty focused less on making it difficult for Clark but for the entire Fever team. Stewart and Jonquel Jones were all over the paint, dishing the ball out exceptionally well to overwhelm the Indiana offense. 

The Indiana Fever's Caitlin Clark (22) controls the ball while being fouled by the New York Liberty's Leonie Fiebich (13) in the third quarter at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Indianapolis. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images/TNS)

Clark was caught in foul trouble early in the game, which has been her No. 1 weakness since entering the league. She also was just 2-for-8 from the field and 1-for-7 from long range. She simply was not looking like her Iowa self. 

Boston, though, had a game-high 12 points and seven rebounds. But it was simply not enough to withstand New York's wrath. 

It was a sold-out night in Gainbridge Fieldhouse, with a crowd of 17,247. So, while the Fever didn't win, they continued to make history and change the persona of women's sports. 

May 18: Indiana at New York Liberty

Only two days later, the Fever traveled to Brooklyn to take on the Liberty on their home court. The result was the same, though. 

After the 36-point defeat in Indiana, head coach Christie Sides wanted the Fever to “compete and play with more pride.” And that's what the Fever did. Despite falling behind by 23 midway through the third quarter, the Fever fought back to make it an 11-point game at the final buzzer. 

While the final score might not show it, the Fever outscored the Liberty 43-34 in the second half, showing this team's resilience. They had its best-looking offense all season in the first quarter, which could have to do with All-Star guard Kelsey Mitchell returning to the starting five for the first time this season after an offseason ankle injury. 

Mitchell contributed 17 points in her return to the Fever. 

Looking at how Clark played, it was an improvement on what we have been seeing. She finished with 22 points on 9-for-17 shooting, marking the most points and her most efficient performance in a game of her Fever career. She also added eight assists and six rebounds. Turnovers were still an issue, though, as she committed eight. 

Clark has grown a lot in her rookie season, but the potential is still there, as she has been efficient in her playmaking abilities. She has been racking up her assists and rebounds. In the backcourt, she is always finding her way into the paint to get any rebound and being physical to get the ball. 

It was another sell-out crowd for the Fever to play in at the Barclays Center. Stewart put on a show with a game-high of 24 points. But the Liberty could not miss from 3-point range. All five starters made multiple 3-pointers for the first time ever in a WNBA regular season game. The Liberty also controlled the transition game, where they were 30-7 in transition baskets. 

The Fever have allowed 285 points from opponents in the past three games, which ranks as the fourth-most through the first three games of a season in league history.

Sides was happy to see how her team did in the paint as they won the battle 38-32 and on the outrebounding the Liberty 34-32. The team played with a better pace, making the offense run more smoothly. But looking at the future the team needs to work on its defense and limit the amount of shots that their opponents take. 

Next up for the Fever is a rematch against the Connecticut Sun on Monday night at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. After that is a three-game road trip to face the Seattle Storm, Los Angeles Sparks and defending champions Las Vegas Aces. 

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