Dream struggling in June

Sonny Kennedy

The Dream have yet to hit their stride so far this season and have struggled to a 3-5 mark through the first eight games. Atlanta has lost four of five games this month and was blown out by Connecticut last Sunday 92-73. An 11-0 Connecticut run to start the fourth quarter buried the Dream’s chances for a road victory. Atlanta made a run in the final minutes, but it was too little, too late.

“I thought we did a great job of cutting it to six, and then we threw the ball away twice,” head coach Marynell Meadors told the AP. “They came back and scored, and when that happened, it took a little excitement out of it and deflated us a bit.”

Fourth quarters have been deflating to Dream fans lately and finishing games has been an issue for Atlanta. Chicago hit a buzzer-beating three to tie the game before beating the Dream in overtime 94-92 on June 2. The New York Liberty outscored Atlanta in the fourth quarter 18-12 to complete a comeback 79-74 win on June 5.

Against Connecticut, the Dream again put up just 12 points in the final quarter. The Dream have to be better in crunch time if they want to get above .500. The goal at this point of the season should be to get to a winning record before battling to get back in the Eastern Conference race.

MCCOUGHTRY ON FIRE …

The Dream will be in good shape if they continue to get the ball into the hands of their best player, Angel McCoughtry. The third- year forward has been the Dream’s best player in every game this season. McCoughtry has one of the best overall games in the league,averaging 21.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.8 steals and just over a block per game.

McCoughtry’s presence down low on both ends of the court make her a threat to get easy baskets and timely boards. Outside shooting is not one of the strongest points of her game, but against New York, McCoughtry was able to knock down two shots from beyond the arc. Atlanta will be successful if McCoughtry scores points inside the paint and on the break. Spreading the ball around to take the focus off their superstar will not get the job done for the Dream and has not so far this season.

POINT GUARD PLAY …

The play of point guard Lindsey Harding is very important to Atlanta‘s overall game. In the three wins, the point guard has averaged 14.3 points and 4.3 rebounds. In the five losses, Harding has averaged just 12 points per game. The stat that matters for a point guard has been lacking in nearly every game this season. The most glaring number for Harding was zero assists in a 78-62 loss to Indiana.

However, numbers are not the only indicator of how a point guard is leading a team. In the 60-57 win over San Antonio, Harding was able to distribute the ball and get fast breaks off turnovers down the stretch. The team has struggled to close out games, but the turnovers at the end of the fourth quarter helped get the Dream the win.

“Even at the end of the game, our strongest suit is to run and get them on their heels,” Harding told the AP. “We did that in the second half, which led us to being successful.”

When Harding starts to put big numbers up, as expected, the Dream should see big results.

ON THE DOCKET …

The Dream will have two chances to get a win in front of the home crowd at Philips Arena, tonight against the Los Angeles Sparks and Sunday against the Connecticut Sun. L.A. and Connecticut are playing some of the best basketball in the league and have a combined 12-1 record this season. The Sparks are led by forward Candace Parker, who averages nearly a double-double with 18.9 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. The McCoughtry-Parker matchup should be something to watch in this game. The Sun have four players that average double figures, including Tina Charles’ 20.9 ppg. Charles scored 22 points and added 11 rebounds in the last game against the Dream. McCoughtry will be counted on again to stop Connecticut’s best player.

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