— Fever begin preparation for fast-paced 2018 schedule
While hoops might hibernate during summer months in some arenas, Bankers Life Fieldhouse will play host to its 19th season of WNBA basketball as the Indiana Fever embark on their second year under head coach Pokey Chatman. In 2018 with a schedule condensed more than normal to accommodate the FIBA World Cup in mid-September, the games and dates will move lightning-fast as teams complete a 34-game schedule in exactly three months.
By comparison, college basketball teams play between 30 to 40 games over a five-month frame. The pace is on par with NBA schedules, including this year’s Pacers who played 45 games over their first three months (Oct. 18 to Jan. 18). But without charter travel and no extended homestands or road swings, the Fever will play or travel nearly every day for extended stretches, several times.
At a quicker pace than any season before, Chatman will lead the 2018 Fever in search of another playoff spot, a streak vacated last year during the club’s first season without legendary Tamika Catchings.
Opening Weekend in May
The fun begins with a bang — two quick games on Opening Weekend, May 19 and 20, highlighted by the club’s home and season opener against Chicago. Indiana battles the Sky in a special afternoon tip (1:00 p.m.) that marks the Fever’s first Saturday afternoon season opener at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. A day later, all 12 WNBA teams are active in #WNBAAllDay with Indiana traveling to the nation’s capital to take on Elena Delle Donne and the Mystics.
Nneka Ogwumike and Candace Parker pace the high-octane Sparks when Los Angeles visits Indy on Tuesday, May 22, followed two nights later when Indiana hosts Delle Donne and the Mystics for a second time in four days – and the Fever’s fourth game in six days.
May ends with the Fever traveling to Connecticut during the Memorial Day weekend, and June begins with the Fever hosting Shavonte Zellous, Tina Charles and the New York Liberty with new coach and 2018 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Katie Smith, on June 2. The two-game mini-homestand concludes when Dallas visits the Fieldhouse on a Friday night, June 8. Familiar faces with the Wings include former Fever stars Karima Christmas-Kelly and Erin Phillips, with Phillips embarking on her first year as assistant coach. Phillips was key this year in bringing one of her Aussie Olympic teammates back to the Tulsa/Dallas franchise as 6-8 center Liz Cambage prepares for a return to the WNBA.
The first week of June is one of just three week-long periods in which Indiana won’t visit an airport.
The Fever visit the Big Apple on June 10 and two days later the Liberty’s former coach, Bill Laimbeer, brings the league’s newest team to Indianapolis. The Las Vegas Aces make their Indy debut on Tuesday, June 13, prior to a weekend with consecutive games against the increasingly familiar-looking Atlanta Dream. Following Indiana’s trade of Layshia Clarendon to Atlanta two seasons ago, the Dream since have added former Indiana stars Jessica Breland and Maggie Lucas as part of free agent signings this offseason. The Fever visit Atlanta on June 14. The Dream visit Indianapolis on June 16.
The club’s first West Coast trip comes June 19 and 22 with games in Los Angeles and Seattle, as Indiana gets its first 2018 look at Storm stars Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart. Indiana plays consecutive games against the same team for a second time when the Fever and Connecticut trade home dates on Sunday, June 24, in Indy; and June 27 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Logging Miles In July Prior to All-Star Break
Indiana transitions into July by alternating two home dates with two road dates. The Fever host Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and the Mercury on Friday, June 29, then open the month of July with a third date with Atlanta on Sunday, July 1. A central time zone road trip sandwiches the 4th of July holiday, with bouts at Minnesota and Dallas, July 3 and 5.
Back home on Wednesday, July 11, Indiana conducts its annual Kids Day game which has featured record crowds the past several seasons. A noon tip welcomes the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx, led by Olympians Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen. A short jaunt to Atlanta pits the Fever and Dream for the fourth and final time on Friday, July 13, followed by a Sunday evening home tilt with Phoenix just two nights later.
It’s Kids Day presented by Steak ‘n Shake against the Lynx again on Wednesday, July 18, only this time in Minnesota. The afternoon game tips off a three-game road trip — the longest of the season — which continues at L.A., July 20, and concludes in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 22.
Returning from the second of three West Coast trips, the Fever welcome Seattle to The Fieldhouse on July 24 before the schedule pauses for the All-Star Break. Indiana resumes play, still at home, on Thursday, Aug. 2 against Dallas.
Stretch Drive In August
The final two weeks of the condensed schedule get underway Saturday, Aug. 4 at New York. Between New York and a third West Coast visit, the Fever host Seattle on Tuesday, Aug. 7, then continue their westward journey with back-to-back weekend stops in Phoenix and Las Vegas, Friday and Saturday, Aug. 10 and 11.
Three games complete the final week of play, beginning with a Wednesday home game vs. Washington, Aug. 15. The season closes with back-to-back games on consecutive weekends, this time both against Chicago — at home on Saturday, Aug. 18 and at Chicago’s new Wintrust Arena a day later.
Sprint, Not A Marathon
The season will move quickly and includes three back-to-backs, the most in a Fever schedule since 2014. Considering Indiana goes nine days between games surrounding the All-Star Break and enjoys two six-day gaps between games (June 2-8; July 5-11), the Fever will average over three games per week over the remaining 10 weeks.
Considering a single three-game road trip in July is the longest stint at home or away, there will be lots of travel days between those three games per week. The Fever open play with five games in the season’s first eight days. Indiana will play or travel on 15 out of 16 straight days in June; and in a similar stretch with 13 out of 14 straight days in July. The final two weeks of the season include seven games and five cities in 15 days.
Unlike the marathon that is the NBA, these WNBA ladies will sprint through three summer months starting May 19.