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Jun 29, 2024 4:02 pm

Fever to focus on details in visit to Mercury

Christie Sides Caitlin Clark

The Indiana Fever will continue to fine-tune their offense around Caitlin Clark when they visit the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday afternoon.

After Indiana (7-12) absorbed its second straight loss, an 89-77 defeat at Seattle on Thursday, coach Christie Sides said her team needs the star rookie to shoot more.

“Caitlin Clark needs to shoot a minimum of 15 shots a game for us,” Sides told reporters. “She’s got to get shots, and we’ve got to do a better job of setting her up, setting some really good screens for her to get her open.”

Clark had 15 points against Seattle, matching Erica Wheeler for the team high, and she did it on 4-of-9 shooting, including 3 of 7 from 3-point range. But Aliyah Boston, NaLyssa Smith and Kelsey Mitchell all took more shots than Clark.

The No. 1 draft pick, who’s been routinely face-guarded and draped by defenders, said the Fever could have done better out of their ball screens against the Storm.

“I could definitely be a little more aggressive to the basket,” Clark said. “But I think I’m just going to try to take what the defense gives me and try to set my teammates up for success, too.”

Clark is averaging 16.2 points, 6.6 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals through 19 games for the Fever. Mitchell has the team high at 16.3 points after making 58.3 percent of her 3-point tries (14 of 24) in the past four games.

The Fever will play the fourth of a five-game road trip against the Mercury (9-8), who improved to 7-2 at home by defeating the Los Angeles Sparks 92-78 on Friday.

Phoenix legend Diana Taurasi shot 5 of 8 from 3-point range while the rest of her team went 2 of 13. Taurasi finished with 20 points and six assists. At 16.5 points per game, she joins Kahleah Copper (22.7, third in the WNBA) and Brittney Griner (19.3) to form a high-scoring trio.

Taurasi said in a preseason interview that “reality is coming” for Clark and her fellow WNBA rookies, an answer that she later said took on a life of its own on social media. The 42-year-old has shared praise for Clark while standing by her belief that the transition from college to the WNBA is a difficult one.

“Obviously Indiana is another super talented young team that’s gonna come in here and play well,” Taurasi said Friday. “The beauty about being young is you don’t know any better. You can play carefree. You can just go into these buildings and let it fly.”

–Field Level Media

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