The San Antonio Silver Stars are no doubt favored to continue their dominance of the Eastern Conference on Thursday, but the expansion Atlanta Dream have shown they aren't pushovers anymore.
The best team in the league hosts the club with the WNBA's worst record Friday when the league-leading Silver Stars try to complete a season sweep of the Dream, who are in search of a third straight win.
San Antonio (14-6) improved to 8-0 against the East with a 75-67 win at Chicago on Thursday. Ann Wauters had 23 points and 11 boards as the Silver Stars never trailed after the first quarter and won their sixth straight game.
"We can still do better," Wauters said. "We had some moments in the game where you have some ups and downs and we can still improve, but I'm really excited where we're at now."
Wauters' effort helped make up for subpar performances from the Silver Stars' two leading scorers - Sophia Young and Becky Hammon. The duo entered the game averaging more than 35 combined points per game, but managed only 20 on Thursday.
Instead of playing for one of the league's top contenders, Wauters could easily have spent this season languishing with the Dream (2-17), who selected her from New York in the expansion draft. The center, though, was then acquired by the Silver Stars in a draft-day deal that involved three other players and two draft picks.
The centerpiece of that trade, Wauters, has given San Antonio a boost in the middle. Thursday's game marked her fifth double-double of the season, including an 18-point, 14-rebound effort in San Antonio's 81-66 win at Atlanta on June 18.
Atlanta, however, is showing signs of turning its season around with two straight wins after its league record-worst 0-17 start. The Dream used a 13-1 run to close out a 73-67 victory at Minnesota on Wednesday for their first road victory.
"We lost enough games for a lifetime," Atlanta forward Jennifer Lacy said. "We're just resilient. We keep fighting and we find a way to come back. We make scrappy plays, we somehow find baskets. That's been a character of our team the whole season, it's just that now we're finding a way to pull out those W's."
The Dream have won both games since Alison Bales joined the team. Acquired last Saturday from Indiana, Bales had 11 rebounds Wednesday.
San Antonio can match Seattle for the best home record in the West at 11-1 with a victory Friday.