Friday, September 18, 2009
Who: The Atlanta Dream (18-16) take on the Detroit Shock (18-16) in a playoff game.
The Dream have a cast including Angel McCoughtry (12.8 ppg) and Sancho Lyttle (13.0 ppg, 7.5 prg). Iziane Castro Marques (14.4 ppg) leads the team in scoring. Deanna Nolan is back (16.9 ppg) for the Mystics and rookie Shavonte Zellous (11.9 ppg) helps an injury-riddled Shock team.
What: The second of a best-of-three Eastern Conference Semifinals play-off series. The first game was played in Detroit on Wednesday where the Shock won 94-89. The Dream must win the remaining two games in Atlanta to move forward.
Where: The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, GA. Note that neither this game nor a possible Sunday game will be played at Philips Arena.
When: Tipoff is 7:30 pm Eastern on Friday, September 18th. The game will be nationally broadcast on NBA-TV. The game should also be available on WNBA Live Access - as it turned out, the game wasn't available there last time but since not all markets get NBA-TV it should be available.
Why: Game One told you why right there. With Detroit winning the home opener, Atlanta must win tonight and then win the follow-up game on Sunday to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. If we don't beat the Shock tonight, it's "see you (hopefully) next year".
It is very hard to keep the Shock down. Three times this season a WNBA team has come back from an 18 point deficit. Two of those times were Detroit Shock comebacks, the first last night in Game One where the Dream were held scoreless for over five minutes in the third quarter. Even when you're leading Detroit, you can never be secure.
Part of the reason for that comeback was Deanna Nolan. Nolan had been shooting under 30 percent in the four regular season games against the Dream, but it doesn't matter if you take a lot of shots. She went a sub-par 9-for-23 but she scored 25 points against the Dream in Game One.
The big question is whether Nolan will play at all. She went down with a concussion in the fourth quarter of Game One and despite Rick Mahorn's assurances that Nolan will show up in Game Two Detroit doesn't sound as confident as they could. If Nolan sits out Game Two, don't be surprised.
We can probably expect another appearance from the Dream's Chamique Holdsclaw. She only scored three points on 1-for-4 shooting in Game One; clearly, she's picked up a lot of rust from her extended layoff due to injury. If there's ever a time we needed to see the Chamique Holdsclaw of old - or at least flashes of that player - it's tonight.
Coaching might make a big difference. The Dream's ability to manage during crunchtime was called into question when the Dream coaching staff inexplicably called an 84 percent free throw shooter to substitute for Nolan to take free throws when Detroit had two sub-70 percent shooters on the bench. Meadors said that if Crystal Kelly had missed one or both of those shots, it would have been seen as a smart coaching move. (And if were 1 1/2 feet taller, I'd be Shaquille O'Neal.) A Game Two Atlanta victory will heal all wounds.
Let's get out there and support our team. If there's any time the Dream needs its fans, it's now.