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WNBA: Caitlin Clark debuts in Indiana as Fever take on New York Liberty

WNBA: Caitlin Clark debuts in Indiana as Fever take on New York Liberty

No one said it was going to be easy and no one expected it to be, but, still, a 21-point loss to the Connecticut Sun in Tuesday’s season opener was painful for the Indiana Fever.

DiJonai Carrington did a spectacular job guarding Caitlin Clark, who despite missing two-thirds of her shots still ended up with 20 points. The question should be: Why didn’t other players step up?

With so much focus on Clark, she was looking for her teammates, which explains why she ended up with 10 turnovers. The player that most benefited from her presence and play was NaLyssa Smith, who had 13 points and nine rebounds. Aliyah Boston, however, had four points and six rebounds. Erica Wheeler made 100 percent of her shots, but she only had three attempts throughout the whole game. Kelsey Mitchell had eight points in her first game back. Twelve days after the training camp began, the Fever have yet to learn to trust each other as they should—it will simply take more time.

However, the New York Liberty, the team that eliminated the Sun from last year’s playoffs, might not be the best opponent for beginning to build that trust. On Thursday, the Fever welcome the Liberty to Gainbridge Fieldhouse for the highly-anticipated home opener (7 p.m. ET, Amazon Prime Video).

In their first game of the season, the Liberty’s one-two punch of Breanna Stewart and Sabrina Ionescu struggled with their shots against the rebuilding Washington Mystics. Ionescu was 4-for-12 from the floor, but contributed to the 85-80 win with seven rebounds and eight dimes. Stewart was 3-for-9 and had eight boards. The Liberty are so good because they aren’t forced to rely on their two stars alone to win. Jonquel Jones, the 2021 WNBA MVP, delivered a vintage performance, scoring 25 points and grabbing eight boards. Betnijah Laney-Hamilton added 20 points as the Liberty won the surprisingly tough game.

What can we expect from Thursday’s game?

Definitely a lot of shooting. The fan in me hopes for the first instance of Clark vs. Ionescu, but while the Fever are allowed to give the ball to their rookie and learn how to work things out, the Liberty want to win now and make a statement. That’s why we will likely see Laney-Hamilton guarding Clark in long stretches. But this will open up the door for Smith to score. So while Clark and Ionescu may not shine today, the game will…

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