With sadness on her face and even a small tear, Lin Dunn watched as the heart and soul of her team was carried nearly helplessly off the floor Sunday afternoon.
In the arms of Shavonte Zellous and Tammy Sutton-Brown was more than an MVP and a prolific scorer. Tamika Catchings is the catalyst and the inspiration of a team on the brink of its second WNBA Finals appearance in three seasons.
Dunn still doesn't know whether Catchings will be available for Tuesday's deciding Game 3 of the WNBA Finals against the Dream-who had a game two victory sewn up long before the guard's injury.
What she does know, however, is she'll get no mercy from their opponents from Atlanta. They went through the same thing just days before.
"They rose to the occasion because they were one person down," said Dunn of the Dream, who beat the Fever 94-77 to force Tuesday's deciding game at Conseco Fieldhouse.
That player Dunn referred to was starting center Erika De Souza, who left the team after game one to begin work with the Brazilian national team and their qualifications for the 2012 Olympic Games.
All the Dream did was plug in Izanie Castro Marquez, who poured in 30 points as an inspired Atlanta team led from start to finish.
"I didn't think we matched their energy," admitted Dunn of her team in Game Two. "Now our backs our against the wall and we've got some injuries we've got to deal with."
One in particular garners all the attention. If Catchings' leg doesn't heal, the Fever will have to replace her 15.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per contest that she averaged on her way to her first MVP award.
"By team committee," said forward Tangela Smith of replacing Catchings. "Just a big team effort."
Katie Douglas will figure to be one who will shoulder a lot of the load in Catchings absence and she'll do so following her own 25-point game on Sunday afternoon. In five playoff games, Douglas is averaging 20.4 points per contest while shooting 45.5 percent from behind the three-point line.
"She's the heart and soul, so its extremely, obviously devastating and unfortunate that this happened to her of all people on the team," said Douglas of Catchings' injury. "But another person's thing is another's opportunity so somebody else has got to step up."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times