INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana coach Lin Dunn’s impending retirement isn’t adding extra motivation for the Fever to win the Eastern Conference finals.
Although they’d like to send the Hall of Fame coach off on a high note with a WNBA championship, remembering the feeling of winning the 2012 title is enough incentive. On Saturday, the Fever open the Eastern Conference finals at home against the Chicago Sky.
“I think right now we just want to win another championship,” Shavonte Zellous said. “Yeah, it would be nice to send coach out on a good note, but we also want to do it for ourselves.”
Dunn announced before the season her plan to step away from coaching after 44 years in the college and professional ranks. She’s not even contemplating her retirement.
“I don’t think about it at all,” said Dunn, a Tennessee native. “I don’t think about ending my career. All I think about is the first four minutes of the next game, and I don’t think past that.”
The Fever, who swept the Washington Mystics in the semifinals, topped Chicago 3-2 in the regular-season series.
However, the Sky has a scoring threat that the Fever hasn’t seen much of this season. Elena Delle Donne scored 23 points against Indiana in the season opener before missing 18 games with a recurrence of Lyme disease.
She came off the bench in the final game of a five-game series on Aug. 16. The Fever beat Chicago 71-67 to prevent the Sky from clinching the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.
On Tuesday, Delle Donne scored 17 of her 34 points in the fourth quarter and hit the game-winning basket to cap the Sky’s 20-point rally to beat the Atlanta Dream 81-80 and advance to the conference finals.
“I think that game showed us that, mostly, there’s times in a game things aren’t going to go right,” Delle Donne said. “You have to kind of take the blow and get back out there and do your best. It was definitely a learning point for us, and I think also a confidence booster as to no matter how much we’re down, we can always come back.”
Other than that, Indiana and Chicago are more than familiar with each other, dating back to the conference semifinals last season. The Fever swept the Sky in two games, and Delle Donne said it still gnaws at her.
Tamika Catchings, the 13-year Indiana veteran, averaged 24 points in two playoff games against the Mystics. She agreed the teams know each other well.
“The biggest challenge, for both teams probably, is that we’ve faced each other so many times,” Catchings said. “(It’s) just staying focused on the defensive scheme that we have, and 40 minutes of just playing hard and playing smart.”
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