Even short-handed, the Indiana Fever have managed to hold their own for the most part during the early portion of this unique 2020 WNBA season.
Looking to win back-to-back games for the first time this season, the Fever face a major challenge against the Los Angeles Sparks on Wednesday night at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Playing without star Erica Wheeler and 2020 third overall draft pick Lauren Cox, who are both in medical protocols, and most recently veteran forward Natalie Achonwa (hamstring), things could be a lot worse for Indiana (2-2), which has been rather competitive early on inside the "Wubble."
On Sunday, Kelsey Mitchell had 23 points and Candice Dupree scored 21 as the Fever overcame an early 10-0 hole to score the next 13 points and never trail again in a 93-77 win over Atlanta. Indiana shot 51.5 percent and 40 percent (8 of 20) from beyond the 3-point arc.
"I'm happy all the way around, we looked good," first-year Indiana coach Marianne Stanley told the Indianapolis Star.
The Fever rank among the WNBA leaders averaging 87.0 points. They also allow 88.5 per contest, but did a relatively solid job against an offensively challenged Atlanta squad.
Things expect to be much more difficult against the Sparks (2-2), who boast five players averaging at least 10.5 points and such star power like Nneka Ogwumike (15.5 points per game), Candace Parker (12.5 ppg, 9.8 rebounds per game) and the underrated Chelsea Gray (11.0 ppg, 6.3 assists per game). However, Los Angeles needs to bounce back from an 81-75 loss to Seattle from the weekend.
Parker had 19 points with 12 boards, but the Sparks trailed 14-1 out of the gate and struggled to recover. They also have yet to win consecutive games on this young campaign.
"I think the biggest thing to learn and understand for our group is, this is basketball," coach Derek Fisher told the Sparks' official website.
"It really is, it's just a competition, and the team that really competes harder for more minutes in a game typically either wins the game or definitely has a chance. I thought that we came out trying to feel the game out, and we didn't compete right from the jump ball."
One positive to come out of that contest was that guard Riquna Williams (10.5 ppg) recorded her 2,000th career point.
Los Angeles took all three 2019 meetings against Indiana, which is led by Mitchell (18.5 ppg) and Dupree (17.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg).