The Indiana Fever are alone in last place again. They’ve had moments when they’ve shown promise and they’ve had two players who were in All-Star consideration in Kelsey Mitchell and NaLyssa Smith, but overall they have been the worst team in the league as they were expected to be.
They need just two more wins to ensure a better winning percentage than last year, but with four first-round picks, including the No. 2 pick, they should be making more of an improvement than that. With 16 games left, they are 3.5 games out of the final playoff spot, so that is an attainable goal. But they will need to improve and create a spark of energy at some point in order to get on a run and accomplish that goal.
On Monday at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Indiana suffered a deflating loss to a fellow non-playoff picture team in the Phoenix Mercury. The Fever came back from a nine-point first-quarter deficit to lead for most of the second. They were also still in the game late, trailing by just five with 4:39 to go after K. Mitchell free throws. But Phoenix went on an 11-1 run after that to lead by 15 with 1:45 remaining. Diana Taurasi’s seventh three of the game made it 80-66 Mercury with 2:16 to go, providing the exclamation mark on a 27-point performance for the GOAT. Phoenix ended up winning 83-71.
The Fever need to win their games against the bottom half and this was a missed opportunity to do that. But even without Tina Charles, the Mercury still have Taurasi, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Diamond DeShields and Brianna Turner, which is a pretty good assortment of talent. The Fever caught Taurasi on a great night for her. She has had her moments this year at age 39/40 with seven 20-point performances. Diggins-Smith added 17 points and four assists and the Fever allowed Sophie Cunningham to go 4-of-8 from deep for 16 points. DeShields was good for 11 points and Turner got her rebounds (eight) and blocks (three), as usual.
K. Mitchell led the Fever with 22 points and left many scratching their heads when she wasn’t selected as an All-Star on Tuesday. She finished the final stretch before the All-Star decision strong with six-straight games in double figures, including four with 20-plus. She is fourth in the league with 19.2 points per game and 12th in the league with 4.1 assists per game.
If Kelsey Mitchells 19-4 averages hold, she will be the 2nd player in WNBA history to not be named an All-Star with those numbers in a season in which All-Stars were named…