Atlanta Dream defeat the Indiana Fever and reach the WNBA Finals for second year in a row
The Atlanta Dream earned a decisive victory on the road in game three of the Eastern Conference Finals defeating the Indiana Fever, 83-67 in the best-of-three series. The Dream advance to the WNBA Finals for the second year in a row taking the Eastern Conference Championship again in the franchise’s fourth season.
Led by Angel McCoughtry withÂ 26 points and 8 rebounds, the Dream came out strong and led all four quarters. At the half, the Dream hadÂ 39 points to the Fever’s 35. By the end of the third quarter, Atlanta had extended their lead with the score at 61-47.
“We played a very good first half. The second half we began very flat,” said Fever head coach Lin Dunn. “(Tamika) Catchings brought us some energy. We had to limit her play, but she is a warrior. (Iziane) Castro Marques makes their team quicker. We lost our poise and composure because of their quickness.”
Castro Marques had 23 points for the Dream. Lindsey Harding added 16 while Sancho Lyttle finished with 10 points, 11 rebounds and five steals. Katie Douglas led the Fever with 16 points and nine rebounds.
Indiana’s Catchings was questionable before the game as she suffered an injury to her right foot in the last five minutes of game two. The Fever’s leading scorer and 2011 WNBA MVP was unable to help her team overcome the speed and offensive prowess of the Dream.
â€œIt was crazy physical,” said Fever player Katie Douglas. “And not only that, we looked terrible on offense, out of sync. We didnâ€™t handle their adjustments. We didnâ€™t adjust. It is on us. We didnâ€™t handle the adjustments they made well at all.â€
By the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Fever began to look fatigued as the Dream continued to pressure them on defense causing Indiana turnovers.
â€œI will talk from my heart,” said Dream head coach Marynell Meadors. “I havenâ€™t looked at the stats yet. I thought our defense was good. We had 17 steals that turned into a lot of points. We played intelligent. We used our speed and quickness. We switched and trapped and mixed it up.â€
The Dream played without starting center Erika de Souza who missed her second game in a row. She traveled to South America at the end of last week to compete for her native Brazil in the FIBA Americas Championship for Woman, an Olympic-qualifying tournament. She will rejoin the team for the finals series.
The Dream travel to Minneapolis for game one of the WNBA Finals and play the Lynx on Sunday in the first matchup of a best-of-five series.Â Atlanta and Minneapolis have only met twice this season, both games won by the Lynx in mid-June at home and on the road. The Lynx beat the Dream 96-85 on June 17 in Minneapolis and 77-64 in Atlanta on June 19. Dream Â forward Lyttle did not play in either of those games. She was abroad competing for Spain in EuroBasket Women 2011, the European women’s championship and a qualifying tournament for the 2012 Olympics
“We are in the finals,” said Meadors. “We will play one game at a time. As a coach you have to figure out how to win the first or second game on the road.â€
2011 WNBA Finals
Minnesota vs. Atlanta
Game 1 â€“ Sun October 2, Atlanta at Minnesota, 8:30 PM, ESPN
Game 2 â€“ Wed October 5, Atlanta at Minnesota, 8:00 PM, ESPN2
Game 3 â€“ Fri October 7, Minnesota at Atlanta, 8:00 PM, ESPN2
Game 4 * Sun October 9, Minnesota at Atlanta, 4:00 PM, ESPN2
Game 5 * Wed October 12, Atlanta at Minnesota, 8:00 PM, ESPN2
All times Eastern