Indiana Fever Schedule Preview: June 26 - July 1

Wins continue to be hard to come by for this young squad.

There haven't been many bright spots for the Fever lately. They were unable to ride the emotional wave of their first victory, losing three consecutive games against Los Angeles, Seattle, and Connecticut.

Granted, that's a pretty tough stretch. Those teams are currently a combined 28-12.

What might be more disappointing than the losses themselves, then, is the play of the Fever's rookies. In particular, Kelsey Mitchell's production has fallen off significantly: she's averaged 10 points in her past five games on just 27.9% shooting from the field. Victoria Vivians has been adequate but inconsistent since being inserted into the starting lineup, and Stephanie Mavunga has missed the past few games after suffering an ankle injury.

This is the frustrating part of following a rebuilding team. Pokey Chatman is taking a process-oriented approach with her youngsters, and it might not always yield the prettiest results. 

However, there's one Fever player who has been showing results: center Natalie Achonwa. Heading into the season, the position was essentially up for grabs, with several players competing for minutes and the opportunity to fully establish themselves in the WNBA.

It's a position that Achonwa appears to have fully secured. She's starting and playing a career-high 24.6 minutes per game, averaging personal bests in points (9.9) and rebounds (7.9) per game as a result. Most recently, Achonwa was the Fever's best player against Connecticut, scoring 16 points without missing a shot in 34 minutes of action. She'll get a chance to repeat that performance soon when the Fever welcome the Sun to Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Wednesday, June 27 at Connecticut Sun (7 pm ET)

In their last game against Connecticut, the Fever were able to hang tough, down just 63-60 after three quarters. They neutralized Sun center Jonquel Jones and held Jasmine Thomas to 1-10 shooting from the field in a defensive performance that should have pleased Chatman.

What wasn't pleasing was that they allowed Sun reserves Brionna Jones (18 points and 10 rebounds) and Rachel Banham (5-5 from 3-point range) to go off for their own career-best games. In a season that's gone about as poorly as one could expect so far results-wise, it was just another night of frustration for Indiana.

Now they get another crack at Connecticut. The chances that Thomas shoots so poorly again are slim, and Jonquel might not be so limited by foul trouble this time around. The Fever will need Mitchell to make some shots if they want to stay in this one.

Friday, June 29 vs Phoenix Mercury (7 pm ET)

It hasn't happened often this season, but the Mercury have looked vulnerable lately, falling to the Lynx at home and then getting upset by Chicago in a somewhat emotional contest. Phoenix was run off the court in a physical battle, which is something that the Fever could theoretically do as well.

The minor detail is that Mercury center Brittney Griner was ejected in that game. However, barring an extremely harsh and strange decision from the WNBA front office, she'll be playing and presenting a massive matchup problem for Indiana. Though they haven't met yet this season, Griner dominated the Fever last season, scoring 38 and 32 points in two contests. Just about everyone is going to struggle against her, but the Fever in particular lack the size to match up individually; Achonwa is going to need plenty of help if Indiana is to contain the Phoenix All-Star.

Sunday, July 1 vs Atlanta Dream (5 pm ET)

Realistically speaking, this is probably the Fever's best chance this week to get back into the win column. They got their first and only win of the season against the Dream on June 16, and with the health of Tiffany Hayes now in question, the Dream could be down one of the biggest perimeter threats in the league.

Indiana will still probably have to get hot from outside, however. Mitchell and Vivians combined to shoot 8-16 from deep in that June 16 game and considering how stout Atlanta's interior defense is, 3-point shooting will once again be essential in this contest.

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