Moment No. 4 - Fourth Straight Playoffs
To celebrate five seasons in Atlanta, the Dream is counting down its five greatest moments as a franchise on the court during those five seasons. Following the announcement of the top moment, fans will have their chance to vote for what they think has been the greatest moment in franchise history thus far.
We continue the countdown with Moment No. 4 – the Dream clinching its fourth consecutive playoff berth.
Moment No. 4 in our countdown – the Dream reaching the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year – was the least dramatic moment on our list as it happened. In fact, it technically didn’t even occur while the Dream was on the court. Atlanta clinched its fourth consecutive playoff berth while most Dream players and fans were probably in bed, thanks to a Chicago loss in Los Angeles late in the night of Sept. 13, 2012.
Although the Dream players and staff were resting in a hotel in Washington, DC, that night – more than 2,600 miles away – Atlanta unquestionably earned its playoff spot on the court. Atlanta was in the midst of a streak in which it won seven out of eight games down the stretch, including five straight in Philips Arena. The return of Erika de Souza following the Olympic break and the promotion of Fred Williams to GM/Head Coach appeared to rejuvenate a squad that had spent much of the season hovering around .500. The Dream finished the season with a 19-15 record, good for third in the Eastern Conference.
While the precise moment that the Dream officially clinched the playoff spot was not memorable, that shouldn’t cause one to overlook the significance of the achievement. Simply looking through the annals of WNBA history makes it clear how special this accomplishment was. Consider the following:
There have been 18 different WNBA franchises since the league began play in 1997. Of those 18 franchises, Atlanta is one of just four that reached the playoffs at least four times in its first five seasons. The other three (Charlotte, Houston, New York) all were franchises that were part of the initial group of eight teams that began play in 1997. Of the 10 franchises that joined the league after 1997, only Atlanta has accomplished the feat.
In fact, reaching the playoffs in four consecutive years at any point of your franchise’s existence is not easy. Ten of the 17 other franchises in WNBA history have never at any point of their existence advanced to the playoffs in four consecutive seasons, including teams such as Phoenix (one of the original eight teams), Washington (began play in 1998) and Minnesota (began play in 1999). Even successful franchises like Indiana (one playoff appearance in its first five seasons) and Seattle (one playoff appearance in its first four seasons) struggled for years before achieving continued success.
Looking at the present day WNBA, the Dream’s run has established it as one of the league’s top teams. Only Atlanta and Indiana have posted winning records each of the past four seasons, and those same two teams are the only ones in the Eastern Conference to reach the playoffs each of the past four years.
So although you may have been fast asleep and not even known about Moment No. 4 the instant it happened, it still resonates as one of the most significant achievements in Atlanta Dream history.