Caitlin Clark’s WNBA Home Debut Will Supersede NBA Playoffs

Caitlin Clark, Fever

Getty Caitlin Clark of the Indiana Fever.

Caitlin Clark has created an undeniable impact on the basketball world, particularly in women’s sports and their unprecedented spike in national popularity. Her gravity is now about to apply its pull to the NBA Playoffs.

The Indiana Pacers, Clark’s counterparts in the men’s professional game, routed the New York Knicks on Sunday, May 12, in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. In doing so, the Pacers won their second consecutive contest and evened the series 2-2 against a banged up Knicks roster now missing four of its top eight players due to injury.

The result has been New York head coach Tom Thibodeau running his remaining healthy players ragged, which has put the Pacers in position to play their advantage to an Eastern Conference Finals that would be the organization’s first in a decade. However, the Knicks are about to catch a lucky break involving extra rest — one which wouldn’t be available to them if not for Clark and her looming home WNBA debut.

“There’s just two games in the next five days,” Brian Windhorst of ESPN said of the Pacers-Knicks series during the May 13 edition of “Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective” podcast. “So they get two days between [Games] 5 and 6. If they’re able to pull out [Game] 5, they get some extra rest before [Game] 6.”

Windhorst’s co-host and ESPN colleague Tim Bontemps explained why that’s the case.

“By the way, the reason there’s a two-day break in this series is because Caitlin Clark is making her [home] debut in the WNBA regular season on Thursday at home for the Indiana Fever,” Bontemps said. “And therefore, the Pacers couldn’t play Game 6 at home on Thursday when they originally would have played. And so, that game is instead being played on Friday.”


Caitlin Clark Has Busy Week of Televised Games With Fever to Open WNBA Season

WNBA

GettyCaitlin Clark of the Indiana Fever.

Disrupting the Pacers’ disruption of a resurgent Knicks franchise and its playoff hopes probably isn’t an ideal scenario for Clark, as she has been a fixture at Pacers playoff games this postseason. However, the people want what the people want, and they want more of the biggest star in women’s basketball.

Clark will make her official regular-season debut Tuesday against the Connecticut Sun on the road, which can be viewed on ESPN2, ESPN+ or Disney+. She will make her home debut against the New York Liberty at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday night, which will air on Prime Video.

Clark’s first nationally televised game will air on ABC Saturday and take place in New York City against the Liberty.


Caitlin Clark Draws Sellout in First WNBA Game on Road Against Sun

Caitlin Clark

GettyCaitlin Clark of the Indiana Fever.

The city of Indianapolis, the Pacers and the Knicks won’t be the only places/entities to feel the influence of Clark this week. She is also already largely responsible for Connecticut’s first season-opening sellout crowd in more than 20 years.

“Caitlin Clark’s regular-season debut will be a must-see event in the WNBA, but getting into the arena for Tuesday’s game has become notably harder,” ESPN reported. “The Connecticut Sun announced Monday that their home opener against Clark and the Indiana Fever is a sellout, with 8,910 tickets sold. The Sun said it was their first sellout for a home opener since their first game in Connecticut in 2003.”

Clark, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 WNBA draft, played in two preseason contests ahead of her rookie campaign. She has averaged 16.5 points, 5.5 rebounds 4 assists and 1 steal in 30 minutes per game.