Game Preview: Atlanta vs. New York
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA
Game Notes: Atlanta I New York
Atlanta looks to remain undefeated when the Dream and New York Liberty meet for the first of four times this season Friday night in Philips Arena. Atlanta is 3-0 after securing road wins at Indiana and Washington last weekend, while New York is 2-1 after also winning at Indiana on Wednesday.
Atlanta has five players averaging in double figures, led by Angel McCoughtry at 20.0 points per game. The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week adds 6.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.7 steals per game. Others in double figures include Sancho Lyttle (13.7), Armintie Herrington (12.0), Tiffany Hayes (11.7) and Erika de Souza (10.0). Lyttle leads the team in rebounding (10.0), while Herrington averages a league-best 5.5 steals per game. The Dream have excelled defensively, leading the league in scoring defense (73.7 ppg), steals (14.0 spg) and turnovers forced (19.3).
New York has two back-court players shouldering the scoring burden, with both Cappie Pondexter and Essence Carson averaging 17.7 points per game. Pondexter also tops the team in assists (3.3). Kara Braxton averages team-bests of 8.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals along with 8.7 points. The Liberty also plays tough defense, leading the league in field goal percentage defense (.353) and tying for third in scoring defense (75.0). New York is only averaging 74.0 points per game, but does shoot 45.5 percent from the field.
New York leads the all-time series, 13-7, although the teams have split the last 14 contests after New York won the first six. The teams split the four meetings last year, with both teams going 1-1 on their home courts. New York has a 7-4 lead in games played in Atlanta, including a win in its last visit in 2012.
Angel McCoughtry scored 23 points and Sancho Lyttle added 19 to lead the Dream to a 74-64 victory on June 24, 2012, in the teams last meeting. McCoughtry was 7 for 20 from the field and 8 for 10 on free throws in her return after missing two games due to a knee injury, helping the Dream snap a two-game skid. Lyttle scored nine points, Armintie Herrington had five and McCoughtry added five points and four rebounds as Atlanta outscored New York 25-10 in the third quarter to take a 13-point lead. Leilani Mitchell scored 16 points, Kara Braxton had 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Cappie Pondexter and DeMya Walker added 12 points each for the Liberty.
Atlanta is 3-0 for the first time since the 2010 team started the season 6-0.
Atlanta currently has three of the top five players in the league in steals per game. Armintie Herrington leads the league, averaging 5.5 steals per game, while Sancho Lyttle and Angel McCoughtry are tied for fourth at 2.7 steals per contest.
Atlanta has outrebounded all three of its opponents by an average of 7.7 boards per game
Sancho Lyttle needs just three rebounds to join Erika de Souza as the only two players to pull down 1,000 rebounds in a Dream uniform.
Atlanta has outscored all three of its opponents in the first quarter by a total score of 73-49, for an average first-quarter lead of 24.3-16.3.
Rookie Alex Bentley has 11 assists and no turnovers so far this season.