The last time the Indiana Fever won a game was back on August 6th, 2017.
With two first-round draft picks, a second-round pick and major decisions to turn over the roster, expectations for this season were not overly high. Outsiders anticipated it, the Fever even knew it to some degree, but its one thing to know it and another to go through it. The Fever are currently sitting at 0-10 despite two overtime games and five games decided by seven points or less. You could argue that the Fever could easily be 5-5.
So what's the problem then? Youth and inexperience are the obviously culprits to point the finger, but from a basketball x's and o's standpoint, what are the reasons?
Right now they average just below 77 points per game which has them 11-th in the league offensively. That average has jumped by 5.6 points per game in the last five games versus the first five games. In the first five games they were averaging 74 points, in the last five they are averaging 79.6 points.
I wanted to break down quarter-by-quarter the Fever's offensive output versus their defensive output. I keep hearing that 'they cant close out games,' which is true to a degree, but not on the level you'd think.
Offensively: The Fever score the most in the fourth quarter, the lull offensively is seen in the second and third quarters based on these last ten games. (Not to mention overtime).
Defensively: Now you're looking at the points the Fever allow per quarter to their opponents on average. They've held their opponents to the least amount of scoring in the second half. They're allowing the most to start the game, sometimes digging a hole and spending the remainder of the game trying to get themselves out of it.
While the argument of being able to close out games is true, the greater issue at the root of the Fever's problems, lies in defense. If the Fever's games to this point were only three quarters and we eliminated the fourth entirely, their record would be 2-8. They'd have an 65-62 win over the Wings and a 51-49 win over Atlanta. It is not about their ability to close out games, it's their ability to defend.
"It's really the defensive. It's just defense. We have to have more guts," said Erica Wheeler in a post game interview following the OT loss to the Aces. "We can't allow people to just do what they want."
Defensively, they Fever were allowing 86 points per game in their first five games. In the last five games, that has dropped, but only by .6 points per game. They have allowed 85.4 points per game in these last 5 contests. An improvement, yes, but they are going to need to find ways to get more stops, especially at the jump of the game to not dig themselves a hole.
Defense, stops, slow starts and overtime blowouts are all signs of a young and inexperienced team. Nobody would argue that, but how long do you continue to use that excuse? Especially ten games into the season. They will get there, but they're going to have to bow up and defend from top to bottom.
It is possible and I anticipate things will click. Don't be surprised if we see them go on a little run the second half of the season and string together consecutive wins. They will get a chance at the win column on Saturday, June 16th as they will turnaround host the Atlanta Dream at 7pm ET.