Caitlin Clark, Fever top Dream in front of record Atlanta crowd

Caitlin Clark's 16 points lead Fever to 4th consecutive win (1:38)

Caitlin Clark cooks the Dream for 16 points as the Fever earn their fourth win in a row. (1:38)

The Indiana Fever, playing in front of another capacity crowd on the road, won their fourth consecutive game Friday, something the franchise had not achieved since 2015.

Indiana beat Atlanta 91-79 in front of 17,575 fans at State Farm Arena, setting a Dream record for single-game home attendance. The previous record was 11,609 for the franchise's inaugural game against the Detroit Shock in 2008 at the same venue, then known as Philips Arena.

The Dream's usual home at Gateway Center Arena in College Park, Georgia, where they have played since 2021, has a capacity of 3,500. But the high ticket demand for Friday's game against the visiting Fever and No. 1 draft pick Caitlin Clark prompted the move to the larger facility in downtown Atlanta, home of the NBA's Hawks. The Dream's other home game this season against the Fever, on Aug. 26, will also be played at State Farm Arena.

Indiana was led by the four draft lottery picks in its starting lineup. NaLyssa Smith (No. 2 in 2022) had 21 points and nine rebounds, while fellow post player Aliyah Boston (No. 1 in 2023) had 10 and 10. Kelsey Mitchell (No. 2 in 2018) had 18 points, and Clark (No. 1 in 2024) had 16 points and seven assists.

The Fever shot above 50% (56.9) for the third consecutive game.

Clark's impact on crowds and ticket prices has been much documented going back to her college career at Iowa. During her senior season, all of the Hawkeyes' home games and most of their road contests were sellouts. Clark and the Fever also have been a big draw in the WNBA.

"These type of environments for me, it's not that different [than college]," Clark said Friday. "Yeah, I'm putting on a different jersey. But these environments are something that I become ... I don't want to say 'used to' ... but you're accustomed to playing in. And it's fun.

"I've never played in Atlanta before. It's fun going to all these new cities as a rookie and getting to play in front of their crowds. Obviously, there's a lot of Fever gear out there. You could just feel the energy in the building, and that's what makes basketball so fun."

Things have been a lot more fun for the Fever lately. After starting the season 1-8, Indiana is now 7-10. The last time the Fever won four games in a row was in August of the 2015 season, the last time Indiana went to the WNBA Finals.

The Fever haven't been to the playoffs since 2016, which was franchise star Tamika Catchings' final season in the WNBA. Getting back to the postseason is the Fever's goal. While not quite halfway through the 40-game season, they are now in playoff position in eighth place.

Friday's game was a challenge for the Dream (6-8), as they were without the 2022 No. 1 pick and Rookie of the Year Rhyne Howard, who is out indefinitely with an ankle sprain suffered Wednesday. Still, it was a big night for the franchise.

Tickets will be at a premium for Indiana's next game too, which is Sunday at Chicago's Wintrust Arena against the Sky (4 p.m. ET, ESPN). According to Vivid Seats, tickets for that game are averaging $351, the most for a WNBA game on record (since 2015).

The five highest average tickets sold in the WNBA, according to Vivid Seats, are for upcoming Fever games, starting with Sunday's contest that will feature Clark and the Sky's Angel Reese, another top rookie, who played college basketball at LSU.

The two met in the 2023 national championship game and the 2024 Elite Eight. Their teams have played twice in the WNBA, with the Fever winning both, June 1 and Sunday in Indiana.

"I saw the ticket prices. ... The only thing is I'm surprised we're not in the United Center. I thought that would have been really good for the game and all the women's basketball fans in Chicago. Maybe there's a conflict of some sort that I don't know about. ... [laughing] Obviously, that's a little above my pay grade."
Caitlin Clark on Sunday's Fever-Sky game in Chicago, for which ticket prices are averaging $351

That said, Clark and the Fever aren't really looking at the games with Chicago as a "rivalry," although they know others are.

"For us, it's just a game of basketball," Clark said. "But if [rivalry talk] is going to help move the game forward, absolutely, that's amazing. That's what it should be.

"I saw the ticket prices. ... The only thing is I'm surprised we're not in the United Center. I thought that would have been really good for the game and all the women's basketball fans in Chicago. Maybe there's a conflict of some sort that I don't know about."

Then she laughed and added, "Obviously, that's a little above my pay grade."

The United Center has concerts booked Friday-Saturday (Justin Timberlake) and Sunday (Russ) evenings.

Wintrust Arena holds just over 10,000 fans. United Center, home of the Bulls and Blackhawks, holds almost 21,000 for NBA and NHL games. The Sky and the Bulls are not affiliated, as the Fever and NBA's Pacers are.