Saturday, September 12, 2009

Atlanta vs. Washington, Saturday September 12

Who: The Atlanta Dream (18-15) take on the Washington Mystics (15-17) in the final regular season game of the 2009 season.

The Dream have a cast including Angel McCoughtry (12.6 ppg) and Sancho Lyttle (13.2 ppg, 7.6 prg). Iziane Castro Marques (14.3 ppg) leads the team in scoring. Washington has Lindsey Harding (12.2 ppg, 4.7 ppg) and Crystal Langhorne (12.2 ppg, 8.0 rpg).

What: The final of four games this year against the Mystics. The Dream are 2-1 so far in the regular season against the Mystics, with their last game a 72-65 win in July.

Where: The Verizon Center in Washington, DC.

When: Tipoff is 7 pm Eastern on Saturday, September 12. The game is available on WNBA Live Access.

Why: Well, Atlanta might be interested in this game because if they win it, it eliminates Washington and determines the four Eastern Conference playoff contenders. A win, furthermore, would secure an incontestable 19-15 record and clinch second place outright. (Atlanta clinched second place by winning the head-to-head tiebreaker against Detroit if the two teams finish with the same record.) And as they say, "winning is a habit".

Outside of that, a win by Atlanta would be nice but a loss won't bring disaster. Atlanta is locked into the second place in the Eastern Conference playoffs. There's an outside chance that Washington could win the third seed if Chicago beats Detroit in the final game of each of those teams and Washington beats Atlanta and then wins against New York on Sunday. But most likely, Atlanta's opponent will be Detroit - and that's a match you want to be completely ready for, so why risk injuring anyone in a meaningless game?

Speaking of injuries, leading scorers from both teams are suffering. Chamique Holdsclaw is still day-to-day and the chances of her not playing on Saturday's game are 99.99 percent. Alana Beard, who averages 16.2 ppg, has only just come back from an ankle injury, appearing in the Mystics' previous game where she shot 2-for-9 from the field against Indiana and finished with just six points.

Washington has to win this game, and Atlanta doesn't. Is it time for Atlanta to knock a team around? Will Washington fold under the pressure? This game will be interesting, at least for that.

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