The season is on the line for both the Atlanta Dream and the Chicago Sky when they meet Tuesday night in a decisive Game 3 at Philips Arena. The winner will advance to the Eastern Conference Finals to face the Indiana Fever, the loser will be left to ponder the missed opportunities that ended their season.
Atlanta slumped down the stretch of the regular season but hung on to claim the East's top seed and home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. They promptly lost that home court edge with a Game 1 loss to the Sky. Chicago however, couldn't close out the Dream as Atlanta won Game 2 going away behind a 39 point performance from Angel McCoughtry.
Following Game 1, both coaches described the series as a chess match. Tuesday's game will be the eighth meeting between the two clubs this season so there probably aren't a lot of wrinkles left to deploy for either team.
Pace has been the key in both games. There are few teams in the league that are as good as Atlanta in transition and the Dream's fast break is fueled by its defense. When Atlanta struggles defensively it allows their opponents extra time to retreat to the defensive end of the floor and set their defense. The Sky shot over 58 percent from the field in the second half of Game 1 and that slowed the pace considerably forcing the Dream to play in the half court. Atlanta was able to control the pace throughout in Game 2 and came away with a big road win.
Both teams could be without a key player for the second straight game Tuesday night. Atlanta's Celine Dumerc sat out Game 2 due to a sprained knee. The Dream didn't miss a beat however as Jasmine Thomas got the start and turned in a solid performance with nine points, seven rebounds and six assists. She added another gear to Atlanta's fast break and it would be hard to see Michael Cooper go away from her tonight even if Dumerc is healthy enough to play.
Chicago lost Jessica Breland to a shoulder injury during the first quarter of Game 1. She sat out Game 2 and doesn't appear likely to play in Game 3 on Tuesday. That has left the Sky a bit thin in the front court particularly when trying to defend McCoughtry.
Game Date/Time: Tuesday, August 26, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: Fox Sports South, NBA TV
Streaming: WNBA Live Access