Friday, September 11, 2009

Atlanta vs. Connecticut, Friday September 11

Who: The Atlanta Dream (17-15) take on the Connecticut Sun (15-17) in the final regular season home game of the 2009 season.

The Dream have a cast including Angel McCoughtry (12.4 ppg) and Sancho Lyttle (13.1 ppg, 7.6 prg). Iziane Castro Marques (14.5 ppg) leads the team in scoring. The Sun have Lindsay Whalen (12.7 ppg, 4.8 apg) and Sandrine Gruda (13.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg)

What: The final of four games this year against the Mercury. The Dream are 2-1 so far in the regular season against the Sun, with their last game a 72-67 win in July. Counting the preseason, this is the fifth time this year Atlanta has played the Sun.

Where: Philips Arena in Atlanta, GA

When: Tipoff is 7 pm Eastern on Friday, September 11th. (Note that this is not a 7:30 pm start time.) The game is available on WNBA Live Access.

Why: You might be a part of Atlanta Dream history if you're in Philips Arena tonight: what other reason do you need than "win, and we're in"? If Atlanta beats Connecticut tonight, they clinch not only a playoff spot after just two years of existence as a WNBA franchise, but home field advantage in the first round. It is still possible for the Shock to finish in second, but Atlanta would have to lose both games - therefore, "win, and we're in".

One question is whether or not Chamique Holdsclaw will be in. She'll certainly be at Philips to enjoy any festivities, but will she play? Holdsclaw is two weeks away from arthroscopic surgery on her right knee, and any return tonight will be an accelerated comeback. Undoubtedly, the hope of Head Coach Marynell Meadors is that the Dream can dominate Connecticut from the tip-off and Holdsclaw can remain on the bench.

If the Dream don't win (heaven forbid), not only does this give Detroit the opportunity to finish second (if they win their final game) but it puts Atlanta in a must win situation the following night in Washington. Atlanta is the worst team in the WNBA in back-to-back games, so Atlanta doesn't want - or need - to face that situation.

For the Connecticut Sun, there is still an outside shot of a playoff spot, but they have to win both games to do it - if they lose, it's over for Connecticut. The Sun have lost five of their last six games, a streak that almost coincides with the loss of their leading scorer Asjha Jones (16.7 ppg) with an injury to her Achilles tendon. Atlanta's only loss against Connecticut came when Jones scored 24 points and 12 rebounds. Connecticut's Tamika Whitmore might also not play as her grandmother is ill.

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