The Atlanta Dream will have their work cut out for them versus the Washington Mystics in game two of the WNBA Semifinals tonight. Game one didn’t turn out quite as planned as they lost a nail bitter 87-84, having a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds. Elena Delle Donne scored 32 points for the Mystics and Alex Bentley led Atlanta with 19.
Washington hit 11 threes in the game and that really became the difference at the end. Atlanta found themselves trying to claw back into the game for almost the entire contest. The Dream cane out rusty at the beginning and it showed.
Atlanta head coach Nicki Collen talked aAbout the layoff in between games and the effect it might’ve had. “We actually, when we’ve had long breaks it hasn’t been good to us. We came back after the All-Star game, after the All-Star break and lost one then got rolling again, the same thing with our long break going into the Phoenix (Mercury) game. So you know I’m not sure you won’t see a more energized team on Tuesday night as we battle back out of the hole.”
The Dream did battle back in game one. After being down as much as eight, they tied the game at 26 apiece to end the first quarter. They were down as many as 15 in the game and nearly pulled out the win. A faster start for game two is imperative.
Leading scorer Tiffany Hayes had a slow start to the game finishing the first half with only six points. She got hot in the fourth quarter scoring nine and finished the game with 17 points overall. It was a great effort but Atlanta was climbing back into the game for the most part. She will need to get off early in game two to match the play of Delle Donne on the other side.
Mystics head coach Mike Thibault had this to say about defending Hayes after the game.
“We have a pretty good All-Defensive player here you know. Natasha (Cloud) has that assignment. She (Hayes) got some of hers in the fourth quarter in transition. They got some long rebounds on our missed shot. She pushed it, we only have one or two people back and she was able to attack the basket.”
He went on to say, “When you play against her you have to have more than one or two defenders in the lane to go after the ball against her. If we had been scoring and they take it out under the net, she doesn’t get those opportunities.”
The Dream as a unit will need to get off to a better start and lock in defensively against outside shots. According to coach Collen, its paramount. “I think what we’ve gotta do is do a better job of taking the (three point) arc away from them on Tuesday night.”
Game two is Tuesday night at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta with the Dream down 1-0 in the series. The team will have to make some if these key adjustments if they expect to have a different outcome in game two.