Fever Seek 12th Consecutive WNBA Playoff Appearance in Tamika Catchings’ Final Season
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Fever will open their 17th WNBA season with three straight home games beginning Saturday, May 14 when the Dallas Wings visit Bankers Life Fieldhouse (6:00 p.m.). Indiana hosts the Phoenix Mercury on Wednesday, May 18 (7:00 p.m.), and closes the opening homestand Friday, May 20 against the Atlanta Dream (7:00 p.m.).
The WNBA celebrates its 20th season in 2016, and has introduced a more balanced schedule. Instead of the former format with 22 games against teams within their own conference and just two apiece against members of the opposite conference, teams will play three games against 10 of 11 opponents, and four games against one conference foe.
In year number two under Head Coach Stephanie White, the Fever will stage a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals while battling four times against the New York Liberty, twice in Indiana and twice at Madison Square Garden. While Indiana will travel twice to West foes Los Angeles and San Antonio, Fever fans will get to see Phoenix and Seattle twice each.
The Fever also will take part in three nationally televised games on ESPN2, beginning with a road game at Minnesota, June 14, in a rematch of the 2015 WNBA Finals. Subsequent dates on ESPN2 include a July 19 home date with Los Angeles and a regular season finale on Sunday, Sept. 18 against Dallas, in what is anticipated as the final regular season home game in the storied career of Tamika Catchings.
The schedule includes a 36-day break to accommodate the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Hoping to compete in those Olympics and earn a USA Basketball record-tying fourth Olympic gold medal is Catchings, who is set to embark on her final WNBA season. Fever point guard Briann January also is a finalist for the U.S. team and second-year center Natalie Achonwa anticipates playing for her native Canada.
Catchings will be a conversation point all season long for Indiana, whether the story revolves around the upcoming Olympics or her final pro season. Since being drafted in 2001, Catchings has ridden an inspiring career to Hall of Fame status, guiding Indiana to within a game of a second WNBA championship last summer. She led Indiana to a WNBA crown in 2012, with Finals appearances in 2009 and 2015, and eight trips to the conference finals. In 2016, Catchings and the Fever will seek their 12th consecutive playoff bid and 13th overall.
Schedule highlights include:
• Tamika Catchings will participate in a well-deserved farewell tour through each WNBA city. She will turn 37 years old, July 21, during what will be her 16th WNBA season overall and her 15th active season (not counting 2001 due to injury). She is the league’s active leader in points, rebounds, free throws and steals. The league’s all-time leader in free throws and steals, she is No. 2 in career points and rebounds. In the postseason, where she has appeared in every playoff game in Fever history (67), Catchings is the WNBA career playoffs leader in every statistical category except assists and blocks. A past Rookie of the Year, MVP, Finals MVP and 5-time Defensive Player of the Year with a record 10 WNBA All-Star Games to her credit, Catchings also is the longtime president of the WNBA player’s association. She was the first recipient of the league’s Dawn Staley Leadership Award. She is a two-time winner of the WNBA’s Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award. Last year she was honored as the first winner of ESPN’s Sports Humanitarian Award.
• The franchise formerly known as the Detroit Shock and Tulsa Shock will play its first game as the Dallas Wings when Skylar Diggins and former Fever star Karima Christmas return to The Fieldhouse in the May 14 season opener. Ironically, the Fever will begin and end the season with home games against the Wings.
• Indiana fans will have the chance to see 2015 Rookie of the Year Jewell Loyd twice this year when Seattle comes to Indianapolis two times as part of the new schedule format – June 1 and June 12.
• Another example of the balanced schedule is a home/road mix that features three different three-game homestands and a pair of three-game road swings. No home or road stretch is longer than three games.
• One of those homestands tips off July 13 when the Fever host Connecticut in a Kids Day game (12:00 p.m.) that annually produces one of the largest home crowds of the season.
• Indiana renews its I-65 rivalry with the Chicago Sky with three matchups. Returning MVP Elena Delle Donna visits The Fieldhouse on Friday, June 10 and Friday, Sept. 9, with Indiana visiting Chicago on Wednesday, June 29.
• Indiana breaks for the Olympics after a day game on Thursday, July 21 at New York. The Fever resumes their schedule on Saturday, Aug. 27 when the Washington Mystics make their lone trip to Indy.
• Defending champion Minnesota visits Indianapolis on Friday, September 16 (7:00 p.m.).
2016 INDIANA FEVER REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE
Sat. 14 Dallas
Wed. 18 Phoenix
Fri. 20 Atlanta
Fri. 27 at Minnesota
Sun. 29 at Atlanta
Wed. 1 Seattle
Fri. 3 at New York
Sun. 5 at Connecticut
Fri. 10 Chicago
Sun. 12 Seattle
Tue. 14 at Minnesota
Fri. 17 at San Antonio 8:00 p.m.
Sun. 19 New York
Wed. 22 at Washington
Sat. 25 at Dallas
Wed. 29 at Chicago
Fri. 1 San Antonio 7:00 p.m.
Wed. 6 at Los Angeles 10:30 p.m.
Fri. 8 at Phoenix
Sun. 10 at Seattle
Wed. 13 Connecticut
Fri. 15 Atlanta
Tue. 19 Los Angeles 8:00 p.m.
Thu. 21 at New York 11:00 a.m.
Break for 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sat. 27 Washington
Tue. 30 Phoenix
Thu. 1 New York
Sun. 4 at Los Angeles 7:00 p.m.
Tue. 6 at San Antonio 8:00 p.m.
Fri. 9 Chicago
Sun. 11 at Washington
Tue. 13 at Connecticut
Fri. 16 Minnesota
Sun. 18 Dallas