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2014 WNBA: Dream emerge from break to take on defending champs

The Atlanta Dream begin the final stretch of the season with a Finals rematch against the Minnesota Lynx.

Kevin C. Cox

The Atlanta Dream return from the All-Star Break Tuesday night as they face the defending WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx in a rematch of last season's Finals.

It was quite an All-Star Weekend for several Dream players and the coaching staff. Rookie Shoni Schimmel stole the show in Phoenix as she captured MVP honors after a record setting 29 point performance in the Eastern Conference's 125-124 win. She was joined by teammates Angel McCoughtry and Erika de Souza in the East's starting lineup and by the Dream's entire coaching staff. It was quite a weekend and Schimmel will try to build on that momentum as she heads into the final stretch of her rookie season.

The Dream won't be at full strength however after the team announced that head coach Michael Cooper would be taking a short medical leave of absence. Cooper was diagnosed with early stage tongue cancer and is slated for surgery this week. A full recovery is expected but in the meantime Karleen Thompson will assume head coaching responsibilities.

Atlanta and Minnesota are no strangers to each other having met in the Finals in two of the last three seasons. The Lynx and the Dream are currently two of three teams that have a better than .500 record in the WNBA. Minnesota checks in at 17-6 and are two games back of the Phoenix Mercury in the West standings. Atlanta is 15-6 and currently hold a five game advantage over second place Indiana in the East.

The 2014 season hasn't been a smooth a ride for the Lynx but they have overcome injury and are still one of the top teams in the league. Forward Rebekkah Brunson has yet to play this season due to a knee injury. Seimone Augustus has missed the last seven games with a knee issue of her own. Minnesota hasn't missed a beat however going 6-1 over that span.

Atlanta has lost eight straight trips into the Target Center but did knock off the Lynx 85-82 at Philips Arena in the only meeting between the two clubs this season. Angel McCoughtry led the way with 23 points in the win while Erika de Souza added a double-double. Maya Moore finished with just 10 points in that earlier meeting. She leads the WNBA in scoring at over 24 points per game.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Tuesday, July 22, 8 p.m. ET

Location: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

TV: Fox Sports South

Streaming: WNBA Live Access