Friday, August 7, 2009

Atlanta vs. Chicago, Saturday August 8th

Who: The Atlanta Dream (11-10) take on the Chicago Sky (10-11) in a battle between two teams trying to make the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time in their respective histories.

The Dream have Chamique Holdsclaw (15.3 ppg) as well as All-Star Team members Sancho Lyttle (13.3 ppg) and Erika de Souza (10.8 ppg). Chicago has All-Star game starters Candice Dupree (15.0 ppg) and Sylvia Fowles (11.5 ppg), and All-Star reservist Jia Perkins (15.3 ppg.)

What: The last game this year against Chicago. The Dream are 0-2 against the Sky this year, losing 81-73 in Chicago and 99-98 in overtime at Atlanta. Since Atlanta would lose the tiebreaker against Chicago if both teams finished with similar records, Atlanta must finish ahead of Chicago in total wins if it comes to a fourth and final playoff spot. The Dream are 1-5 against the Sky all time.

Where: Philips Arena in Atlanta, GA.

When: Tipoff is 7:00 pm Eastern on Saturday, August 8th. If you don't know why you need to show up in person, then you haven't been following this blog.

Why: Aside for the obvious reasons, the Dream are riding a four-game winning streak into Saturday's game. The Dream have not only never won four games in a row, but last year, they finished 4-30. It's a big turnaround for the Dream, which is playing the best basketball in the WNBA outside of the Indiana Fever. Furthermore, this game sparks a six-game home stand that lasts until the 25th of August. If the Dream win Saturday's game, there's no telling how long that hot streak will last.

However, Chicago has gotten Atlanta's goat this year. The Dream's first win in its history was against Chicago in Philips Arena last year, the first victory after starting the season with 17 straight losses. Chicago undoubtedly remembers the pain of that loss, but Chicago wants to keep beating the Dream for more than just revenging a significant Dream win. The Sky have never been to the playoffs, either - the Sky and the Dream are the WNBA's newest teams and the Sky would like to get there first. Sylvia Fowles missed a few games this year with a knee injury, but she's back and averaging 8 rebounds a game. Candice Dupree adds another 7 rebounds a game for the Sky.

Problem: the Sky only have two road wins this year, and only the Monarchs are worse on the road. The Sky's victories are narrow ones and their defeats are significant - despite a 10-11 record, the average game for the Sky is a 4.76 point loss. This is the worst differential in the WNBA. (The Dream's average game is a 1.9 point win.) The suggestion has been made by some WNBA observers that the Sky tend to fold when the going gets tough. Let's hope that the Dream keeps it that way.

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