In the final week of a disappointing season for both the Indiana Fever and New York Liberty, the focus should be about finding something positive to move forward.
With a combined 13 straight losses between the two, the Liberty and Fever meet Thursday night at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
This unique season inside the "Wubble" was always going to be challenging for both Indiana (5-15) and New York (2-17), and not just because of the circumstances involving the coronavirus pandemic.
It's been extremely rough for the Liberty, who didn't even get three full games from overall No. 1 pick Sabrina Ionescu before she was injured. They've also played without fellow star Asia Durr in 2020.
At the bottom of the league standings and also ranked last averaging 72.1 points and shooting 36.5 percent, New York dropped its fifth in a row Tuesday, 96-70 to Los Angeles. Jocelyn Willoughby had 21 points and made five of the team's 12 3-pointers for the Liberty, who trailed 25-12 after one quarter.
Though the results aren't there for the Liberty, the chance for some new faces and different lineups to take shape can help see what potential lies ahead for the franchise.
"We're trying different things ... it's exciting," Willoughby told Empire Sports Media. "Change is hard. I don't think anyone grows without going through hard things. As a team, we've had so much adversity. Sabrina going out, the circumstances of the bubble. I think we've had growth."
New York fell 86-79 to Indiana on Aug. 13. Since that victory, however, the Fever are 1-10 and seem to be lacking any sense of direction. They dropped their eighth in a row Tuesday, 92-86 to a Las Vegas squad vying for the top spot in the league standings.
Indiana has been playing shorthanded for most of the season, as injuries have hindered the club's progression. The Fever shot 48.6 percent and hit 10 3-pointers on Tuesday, but were outrebounded 42-28.
Amid the struggles for Indiana, Kelsey Mitchell has been one of the consistently positive figures throughout the season. She averages a team-leading 17.8 points and finished with 24 against the Aces on Tuesday.
Mitchell had 19 points in last month's win over New York. Kia Nurse scored 21 for the Liberty in that contest while Layshia Clarendon added 20.
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