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WNBA FINALS 2011: Minnesota Lynx Win First WNBA Title, Seimone Augustus Named Finals MVP

WNBA FINALS 2011: Minnesota Lynx Win First WNBA Title, Seimone Augustus Named Finals MVP

Lynx Championship Parade

WNBA- The 2011 Minnesota Lynx – WNBA Champions

Youth, experience, leadership, desire, these were the main ingredients to the Minnesota Lynx incredible 2011 season. From the starters to the bench, the Lynx were, in a word, Impressive.

2011 WNBA Finals Look-back

The Minnesota Lynx took 3 straight games from the Atlanta Dream to win their first title in an intense, high-scoring series.

The Dream tried to force a Game 4 in the best-of-5 series but Seimone Augustus led the Lynx to the title in Atlanta.

CHAMPIONS!!

by Denise Saul

Minnesota Lynx logo

Image via Wikipedia

The Minnesota Lynx withstood a furious fourth quarter comeback by the Atlanta Dream to win the franchise’s first WNBA title.  Series MVP Semoine Augustus had 16 points and Maya Moore, returning to her Atlanta home, had 15 – including a key 3-pointer late in the game – to lead a balanced scoring attack as the Lynx won their first WNBA title.

McCoughtry had a game-high 22 points, including nine in the fourth quarter. McCoughtry made only 9 of 25 shots as the Dream were held to 34.6 percent shooting from the field.

Seimone Augustus is a WNBA Champion and the MVP of the WNBA Finals

Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve talks to the media after winning theWNBA Championship

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Check out the best slow motion highlights from Game 2 of the Finals between the Lynx and Dream as Seimone Augustus and Angel McCoughtry put on an amazing offensive display.

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Game 1: Lynx dominate fourth quarter, rally past Dream 88-74

Rebekkah Brunson scored a team-high 26 points and pulled down 11 rebounds and Seimone Augustus added 22 points to lead the Lynx to the game 1 victory vs the Dream 88-74.

The Lynx outscored the Dream in the fourth quarter 26-12 and draw first blood in the best-of-five series.  Angel McCoughtry scored 19 of her 33 points in the third quarter and Lindsey Harding scored 20 points in a losing effort for the Dream.

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Dream cool Fever, return to WNBA Finals

Angel McCoughtry scored a game high 26 points as the Dream defeated the Fever,  in Indiana, and advanced to the WNBA finals for the second straight year. Iziane Castro Marques scored 23 points, Lindsey Harding scored 16 points and Sancho Lyttle added 10 points, 11 rebounds and five steals for the Dream.  Atlanta played an Indiana team without league MVP Tamika Catching at full strength.  Catchings was limited to 24 minutes due to plantar fasciitis in her right foot.  Katie Douglas had 16 points and nine rebounds and Tammy Sutton-Brown added 11 points and nine rebounds for top-seeded Indiana.

Atlanta will play at Minnesota on Sunday in the opener of the best-of-five series.

Minnesota dismisses Phoenix, advances to WNBA Finals

Youth and Experience Propel Lynx past Mercury (103-86)

The Minnesota Lynx continue on their incredible season, advancing to the WNBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.  Taj McWilliams-Franklin, the oldest player in WNBA history and newly crowned Rookie of the Year Maya Moore led the way for the Lynx with 21 points each.  All five Lynx starters scored in double-digits (Whalen 18, Augustus 16 and Brunson 12).  McWilliams-Franklin added seven assists & 6 rebounds.  For the Mercury, DeWanna Bonner dropped in 22 points and pulled down 10 boards, Diana Taurasi added 21 points and Candice Dupree had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Mercury.

Seimone Augustus uses the nasty crossover to create space and hits a pretty ‘J’

2011 PLAYOFFS PREVIEW – Western Conference

The Minnesota Lynx have looked like the team to beat all season long and entering the playoffs, things really haven’t changed. All the pieces are in place for the Lynx, from an impressive starting five to a very solid bench.  The Lynx swept the Silver Stars, their round one opponent, during the regular season and will enjoy home court advantage throughout playoffs.

The 2,3  Seattle/Phoenix match-up is going to be an exciting slug-fest out west.  Lauren Jackson is healthy, a sharp-shooting Katie Smith, WNBA all-star game MVP Swin Cash and of course Sue Bird running the show makes the reigning WNBA champs a very tough draw for the Mercury. But Phoenix does boast a highest-octane offense in the WNBA led by Diana Taurasi, the five-time WNBA scoring leader, Penny Taylor, DeWanna Bonner and Candice Dupree, Phoenix’s not so quiet forces, will try to wreck some havoc of their own as the chess match begins between Corey Gaines and Brian Agler.

It will be Phoenix’s, 88.97 points per game against the league’s best defense of Seattle, 69.85 points allowed per game.

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Eastern Conference

The playoffs are set, in the east, the top seed Indiana Fever will battle the #4 seed NY Liberty and the #2 seeded Connecticut Sun will take on #3 Atlanta Dream, the hottest team coming into the playoff.  Atlanta has won four in a row which included defeating the Fever and the Sun.

In their final regular season game, the Fever rested their top defensive player, Tamika Catchings who will most likely draw the defensive assignment on Cappie Pondexter, arguably the best one-on-one player in the WNBA.

If the regular season is any indication (season series tied at 2-2) , both these series should be nail biters.

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Lynx Clinch First Post-season Berth Since the 2004 Season

Lynx 2011 Highlights

Lynx set sights on home court advantage through the playoffs;
Western Conference Semifinals

courtesy wnba.com/lynx

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL – With their win over Los Angeles, the Minnesota Lynx clinched the franchise’s first playoff berth since the 2004 season. The Lynx are the first team to secure a spot in the playoffs and at 20-6, own the best record in the WNBA. With their win, the Lynx also moved 2.0 games up on Indiana (18-8) for the best overall record in the WNBA, which would give them home court advantage through the entire 2011 WNBA Playoffs. Minnesota came into tonight’s action 4.5 games up on the Phoenix Mercury for first place in the Western Conference. Coming into tonight Minnesota’s “magic number” to clinch home court advantage through the Western Conference Playoffs, pending tie-breaker scenarios, stood at six on Phoenix, five on San Antonio and four on Seattle.

The 2011 season has been historic for the Lynx, as they have already set a new single-season franchise records for wins in a season (19) and road wins (9), while tonight’s win was their franchise record-tying 11th at home this season.


Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve discussed their win against Sparks

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Tamika Catchings Makes WNBA History

Congratulations to Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings on becoming the first player in WNBA history with 5,000 points, 2,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists.  Catchings was also named one of the Top 15 Players in WNBA History…way to go CATCH!!!

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VIDEO REWIND – BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE 2011 WNBA ALL-STAR EVENT

WNBA All-Star Event 2011 – from WSENetwork.com

2011 – San Antonio, TX was the sight for the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game, and what a special event it was. Fans were treated to a very exciting all-star game AND watched as the Top 15 Players of All-Time were announced. Watch our Video Rewind Behind the Scene segment of the 2011 WNBA All-Star event.

TOP 15 PLAYERS HONORED AT WNBA ALL-STAR GAME

WNBA HONORS TOP 15 PLAYERS IN LEAGUE HISTORY DURING
HALFTIME CEREMONY AT 2011 WNBA ALL-STAR GAME

— Fans, Media, Current Players, and Coaches Select
Superstars of the Past, Present, and Future —

NEW YORK, July 23, 2011 – In celebration of the WNBA’s 15th season, the league officially unveiled and honored its Top 15 Players of All Time during a special halftime ceremony aired live on ABC at today’s 2011 WNBA All-Star Game presented by adidas in San Antonio.

“The 15 athletes honored today represent an extraordinarily accomplished group and the very best in women’s professional basketball from around the world,” said WNBA President Laurel J. Richie. “In just the few months I’ve been with the WNBA, I have had an opportunity to meet each of the current players on this list as well as some of the legends who paved the way. I have found that they are not only tremendous athletes who have reached extraordinary heights on the court, but also terrific women who give unselfishly of their time in the community. I am proud to be associated with these outstanding women; and I am so pleased for them that the fans, media members, and the current generation of players and coaches, have chosen to recognize and honor them.”

A panel comprising media members and basketball experts selected the 30-nominee ballot, giving consideration to such factors as oncourt performance and ability, leadership, sportsmanship, and community service, as well as to contributions to team success and the overall growth of women’s basketball.

Voting for the league’s Top 15 Players of All Time began on June 23 and was conducted among fans, who voted on WNBA.com, by select national and WNBA-market media, and by current players and coaches. The league weighted each of three voting groups to account for an equal percentage of the total vote.

“This list of 15 players is composed of exciting – and dominating – players from start to finish and highlighted by players of all kinds – scorers, playmakers, ballhandlers, rebounders, defensive wizards, leaders, and players who have brought out the best in their teammates,” added WNBA Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations Renee Brown, who has been an executive with the WNBA since its inception. “I cannot think of 15 more deserving women to represent the more than 700 players who have taken the court wearing the WNBA logo on their uniform during our 15-year history.”

The WNBA’s Top 15 Players of all time:

Name                              WNBA Team (Current/Last)        Previous Team(s)
Sue Bird Seattle Storm (2002-Current)
Tamika Catchings        Indiana Fever (2002-Current)
Cynthia Cooper*           Houston Comets (1997-2000, 2003)
Yolanda Griffith*          Indiana Fever (2009)        Sacramento Monarchs (1999-2007),  Seattle Storm (2008)
Becky Hammon            San Antonio Silver Stars (07-Current)           New York Liberty (1999-2006)
Lauren Jackson            Seattle Storm (2001-Current)
Lisa Leslie*                    Los Angeles Sparks (1997-2006,  2008-2009)
Ticha Penicheiro           Los Angeles Sparks (2010-Current)        Sacramento Monarchs (1998-2009)
Cappie Pondexter        New York Liberty (2010-Current)        Phoenix Mercury (2006-2009)
Katie Smith                   Seattle Storm (Current), Minnesota Lynx (1999-2005),  Detroit Shock (2005-2009)
Washington Mystics (2010)
Dawn Staley*                 Houston Comets (2006-2006)        Charlotte Sting (1999-2005)
Sheryl Swoopes             Tulsa Shock (Current)        Houston Comets (1997-2000, 2002-2007), Seattle Storm (2008)
Diana Taurasi                 Phoenix Mercury (2004-Current)
Tina Thompson               Los Angeles Sparks (2009-Current)        Houston Comets (1997-2008)
Teresa Weatherspoon*  Los Angeles Sparks (2004)        New York Liberty (1997-2003)

MARION JONES’ RUN WITH TULSA ENDS, OLAJUWON ADDED

Shock Signs Abi Olajuwon, Waive Jones

Marion Jones (photo credit: Thomas Humphrey)

Former Oklahoma standout, Abi Olajuwon will return to the Sooner state as she was signed by the Tulsa Shock earlier today.

Olajuwon played at Oklahoma from 2006 to 2010 and had her best year as a senior when she averaged 10.6 points and 7.3 rebounds on 50.6 percent shooting from the field on a team that made it to the Final Four.

“We need more size and I think that’s what she brings – defense and rebounding ability that we are currently lacking,” Interim Head Coach Teresa Edwards said.

Olajuwon was drafted with the fourth pick in the third round in the 2010 WNBA Draft by Chicago and appeared in six games for the Sky last season, averaging five minutes a game.

In order to make room on the roster, the Shock waived second-year player Marion Jones. Jones appeared in 47 games for the Shock in the past two seasons, averaging 8.6 minutes a game.

“I want to thank the Tulsa Shock, Coach Richardson, the WNBA and my tremendous teammates for providing me the opportunity to fulfill a dream, and a platform to demonstrate to people, especially our youth, that if you have faith, life is full of second chances,” Jones said. “I love the game and welcome another opportunity to contribute to women’s professional basketball.”

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WNBA ALL-STAR GAME RESERVES ANNOUNCED, TEN FIRST-TIMERS & THREE ROOKIES TABBED

SAN ANTONIO’S BECKY HAMMON AND DANIELLE ADAMS HIGHLIGHT RESERVES FOR 2011 WNBA ALL-STAR GAME

— Record 10 Players Selected as First-Time All-Stars —

— Three Rookies Tabbed for Midseason Classic —

NEW YORK, July 19, 2011 – San Antonio Silver Stars guard Becky Hammon and forward Danielle Adams headline the reserves for the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game presented by adidas, the league announced today. Adams, a second round pick (20th selection overall) in the 2011 WNBA Draft presented by adidas, is one of a record 10 players, four starters and six reserves, making their first All-Star appearances, the most since 2000 when nine were selected.

Tina Charles - Connecticut Sun (photo credit: Lynne G/WSEN)

The 2011 WNBA All-Star Game presented by adidas will be nationally broadcast on ABC, Saturday, July 23 at 3:30 p.m. ET (2:30 p.m. CT) from San Antonio. It is the first time the San Antonio Silver Stars are hosting the WNBA’s midseason showcase.

Reserves were selected by the league’s 12 head coaches. Coaches were not permitted to vote for players on their own team, and selected reserves by voting for six players within their own conference, including two guards, two forwards, one center and one player regardless of position.

Hammon will be making her sixth All-Star appearance, becoming the first player to be selected an All-Star three times with two different teams (2003, 2005, 2006 with New York, and 2007, 2009, 2011 with San Antonio). Adams leads all rookies in scoring (15.7 ppg) and is tied for second in rebounding (5.0 rpg).  She also received the most write-in votes (3,669) by fans in the 2011 WNBA All-Star balloting presented by T-Mobile.

Joining Hammon and Adams, as reserves for the Western Conference are Phoenix forward Penny Taylor, and a trio of Minnesota teammates: forward Rebekkah Brunson, and guards Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen. Minnesota guard Maya Moore was voted by fans as a starter, giving the Lynx the most players selected from one team for a WNBA All-Star Game since 2006 when all five players in the Connecticut Sun starting lineup were selected.

In the East, Chicago center Sylvia Fowles, making her second All-Star appearance, is one of three Sky teammates named reserves, including first-time All-Stars, guards Epiphanny Prince and Courtney Vandersloot.  Rounding out the East reserves are three other first-time All-Stars: Connecticut Sun guard Renee Montgomery, New York Liberty forward Essence Carson, and Washington Mystics forward Crystal Langhorne.

This season’s rookies continue to impress, as Adams, Moore and Vandersloot mark the most rookies selected for an All-Star Game since 2006 when Augustus, Cappie Pondexter, Sophia Young and Candice Dupree were selected.  Moore is also the first rookie voted to start in the WNBA All-Star Game since Tamika Catchings and Sue Bird in 2002.

Following are the reserves selected for the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game presented by adidas:

Eastern Conference Reserves: Western Conference Reserves:
Essence Carson, Forward (New York Liberty)                 Danielle Adams, Forward (San Antonio Silver Stars)
Crystal Langhorne, Forward (Washington Mystics)       Rebekkah Brunson, Forward (Minnesota Lynx)
Sylvia Fowles, Center (Chicago Sky)                                   Penny Taylor, Forward (Phoenix Mercury)
Renee Montgomery, Guard (Connecticut Sun)                Seimone Augustus, Guard (Minnesota Lynx)
Epiphanny Prince, Guard (Chicago Sky)                           Becky Hammon, Guard (San Antonio Silver Stars)
Courtney Vandersloot, Guard (Chicago Sky)                    Lindsay Whalen, Guard (Minnesota Lynx)

Replacement players, who will take the roster spot of players who cannot play due to injury, will be named by the WNBA President on July 20.  Any changes to the starting lineup necessitated by injury would subsequently be made by the head coach of the respective team.

By virtue of winning their respective conference titles last season, Seattle’s Brian Agler will coach the Western Conference, and the Eastern Conference will be led by Atlanta’s Marynell Meadors.

2011 WNBA ALL-STAR ROSTERS

EASTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STARS
Head Coach: Marynell Meadors (Atlanta Dream)

Player                                       Team                        Pos.
Essence Carson^               New York Liberty        Forward
Tamika Catchings*           Indiana Fever               Forward
Tina Charles*^                 Connecticut Sun           Center
Katie Douglas*                  Indiana Fever               Guard
Sylvia Fowles                    Chicago Sky                   Center
Crystal Langhorne^        Washington Mystics     Forward
Angel McCoughtry*^      Atlanta Dream               Forward
Renee Montgomery^        Connecticut Sun        Guard
Cappie Pondexter*            New York Liberty        Guard
Epiphanny Prince^           Chicago Sky        Guard
Courtney Vandersloot^+  Chicago Sky        Guard

WESTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STARS
Head Coach: Brian Agler (Seattle Storm)

Player Team Pos.
Danielle Adams^+        San Antonio Silver Stars        Forward
Seimone Augustus        Minnesota Lynx                       Guard
Sue Bird*                        Seattle Storm                            Guard
Rebekkah Brunson       Minnesota Lynx                       Forward
Swin Cash*                     Seattle Storm                           Forward
Becky Hammon            San Antonio Silver Stars        Guard
Maya Moore *^+          Minnesota Lynx                       Forward
Candace Parker*#^      Los Angeles Sparks                Center
Diana Taurasi*              Phoenix Mercury                    Guard
Penny Taylor                 Phoenix Mercury                    Forward
Lindsay Whalen            Minnesota Lynx                      Guard

* denotes member of the starting lineup, as voted by the fans
^ denotes first-time All-Star selection
# denotes injured and will be unable to participate in the WNBA All-Star Game
+ denotes rookie

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POKEY CHATMAN…”What My Team Needs” (post-game vs Liberty)

Coach Chatman discusses the “State of the Sky” after a loss to the NY Liberty at the Prudential Center.  The Sky led by as much as much as 17 points in the first half, only to see the Liberty bounce back in the second half to win their third in a row.

Currently the Sky sitin fourth place in the east, 3.5 games behind the red-hot Indiana Fever.

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Kobe’s father now head coach of WNBA’s Sparks

Joe Bryant (courtesy of wnba.com/sparks)

Joe “Jellybean” Bryant — a former NBA player and father of Kobe Bryant — has been promoted to head coach of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.

Jennifer Gillom, who was hired in 2009 and coached the team after Michael Cooper left to coach Women’s basketball at USC, was relieved of her duties over the weekend after the Sparks fell to fifth place in the six-team Western Conference with a record of 4-6.  The Sparks have lost their last five games in a row (4-6 overall) and, not surprisingly,  have struggled since losing  all-star center Candice Parker to a knee injury in a June 26 game; she is expected to be out about six weeks. Parker played in just 10 games last season after needing surgery on a dislocated left shoulder..  The Sparks were 13-21 last year under Gillom, when injuries also decimated the roster.

“This was a very difficult decision, but I felt it was necessary to take the team in a different direction at this point in the season. Joe’s familiarity with the Sparks organization puts us in the best possible position to compete going forward, and should make for a seamless transition,” Toler said.

Bryant, a former NBA player, was first hired by the team as an assistant under Henry Bibby in 2005. Bibby was fired with five games remaining in the season, and Bryant took over as coach. He went 4-1 and the Sparks finished with a 17-17 record. Bryant returned in 2006 and led the team to a 25-9 record and an appearance in the Western Conference finals. He was fired in April 2007, and succeeded by Michael Cooper, who had led the Sparks to championships in 2001 and 2002.  Bryant was hired to return to the Sparks as an assistant in March.  He has talked in the past about wanting to make the jump to being an assistant coach in the NBA, a transition some but not all WNBA coaches have made, most notably, Bill Laimbeer, now an assistant with the Detroit Pistons and is in the running for that head coaching job.

“We respect Jennifer’s commitment to the Sparks and understand she has faced adversity with player injuries during her tenure. That being said, with a short season and playing in the competitive Western Conference, winning games early in the year is critical and the Sparks’ goal remains to contend for a WNBA Championship.”

“I want to thank everyone in the Sparks organization for the opportunity to serve as head coach, especially Penny Toler,” Gillom said. “I enjoyed coaching the players and working alongside my staff, and am confident they will accomplish great things this season.”

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SHOCK GM/HEAD COACH NOLAN RICHARDSON RESIGNS, TERESA EDWARDS NAMED INTERIM COACH/GM

Teresa Edwards – interim head coach of the Tulsa Shock 07/09/11

Teresa Edwards addresses the Tulsa media less than 24 hours after taking the helm from Nolan Richardson, who stepped down from head coaching duties late Friday night.

The Tulsa Shock announced the resignation of Head Coach/GM Nolan Richardson.  The Shock currently have a 1-10 record, worst in the WNBA, and most recently are on a five-game losing streak.

The organization released the following statements:

Statement from Co-Owner David Box:

“Despite the disappointing start to this season for the Tulsa Shock, the decision to consider a coaching change in mid season was extremely difficult. Coach Richardson is a legendary basketball coach who has earned the respect of the collegiate and professional basketball family for an exceptional body of work during his impressive 30 plus year career. Last night’s announcement does nothing to diminish his extraordinary accomplishments and our organization’s high admiration for him. We will be forever grateful to Coach Richardson not only for coaching the Shock, but also for his enthusiastic effort to help us raise the money from this fine community to bring professional sports to Tulsa with the WNBA. We know Coach Richardson has been without question one of this community’s biggest fans. Our entire organization and team wish him only the very best and will always consider him a part of our Shock family and respect what he accomplished at the University of Tulsa and the University of Arkansas.”

“We are fortunate our basketball operation is headed by one of the most respected basketball minds in the profession in Teresa Edwards. Ms. Edwards has an impressive career spanning three decades at the highest level of competition including as a member of five U.S. Olympic Basketball teams where she earned four Gold Medals. Teresa knows our team well and the players respect her management, leadership and passion for the game. Her credentials are strong and she knows what it takes to succeed. She will serve as the Tulsa Shock’s interim coach for the remainder of the season. We look forward to supporting Coach Edwards as she moves our team forward this season.”

Statement from Coach Richardson:

“While I am saddened to leave the Tulsa Shock at this time and in this manner, I am also very disappointed in the way we have started the year, and as coach, I accept my share of the responsibility. I respect our organization and players. This is a class group of individuals who are committed to this community, organization and players. I will be forever thankful for the unique opportunity Bill and David and the entire ownership group gave me to re-enter coaching basketball, something I love to do and missed dearly. I love Tulsa. This community has always been good to me and for me. I want to especially thank my players for allowing me the honor to coach them in the WNBA where the finest women athletes in the world compete. I want to also wish Coach Edwards the very best moving ahead. She’s a top notch person. Please know that I will forever be one of the Tulsa Shock’s biggest fans.”

Statement from Teresa Edwards:

“In a short period of time, Coach Richardson taught me a lot about basketball and life. He was always gracious to me and he was passionate about the game and his players. He considered his players family and he worked hard all time to make everyone around him better. As the Shock improves, Coach Richardson will always be part of the progress. While the record may not bear it out today, he is a winner in every aspect both as a coach and a citizen. I want to personally thank him and wish him the best. Even though the circumstances are not what I would prefer to become a head coach, I appreciate the opportunity I have been given to coach the Shock on an interim basis. We have work to do and we are going to start right now.”

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Into the Action: Indiana Fever

Take an inside look at the Indiana Fever during the opening weeks of the 2011 season as they try to make a run at the title with several new players.

The Fever (8-3) currently boasts the best record in the eastern conference.

Balance, key to Indiana streak

A look at the 2010 Indiana Fever:

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