The Washington Mystics enter the final weekend before the WNBA's Olympic layoff looking to turn around a disappointing season.
A matchup with the expansion Atlanta Dream on Friday night might be just what they need to get started.
The Mystics (9-15), fifth in the Eastern Conference, are coming off Wednesday's 80-73 loss to New York. Washington, though, may have a good chance to enter the Olympic break with consecutive wins, as it follows up Friday's matchup with the woeful Dream with Sunday's game against Connecticut - loser of five of six.
First, the Mystics will attempt to sweep the season series from the Dream (3-22), owners of the worst record in the WNBA. Washington won't play again after this weekend until Aug. 29 as the league takes time off to allow its players to compete in the Beijing Games.
Washington, which won't have any players at the Olympics, has won its first two meetings with Atlanta at home, taking the last matchup 72-61 on June 20.
That victory capped a season-high three-game winning streak after the Mystics began the year 2-7. They failed to build on that run and won only three of their next 10, leading to the firing of coach Tree Rollins on Saturday. Rollins was replaced with assistant coach and director of scouting Jessie Kenlaw on an interim basis.
Washington appeared to respond to the change Sunday, pounding Seattle 89-57 to halt the Storm's franchise-record seven-game winning streak. The Mystics, though, saw their bench get outscored 42-10 in the loss to the Liberty three days later.
Alana Beard, Washington's leader with 16.6 points per game, scored 16 but committed six turnovers against the Liberty. She totaled 12 points with three turnovers in her previous two games.
The guard-forward, however, has scored 43 points in two games against the Dream, including 25 with three blocks in an 80-74 victory May 27.
The Dream, 1-11 at home, are looking to avoid a fourth consecutive loss after falling 79-66 to Sacramento on Tuesday following a 2-4 road trip that lasted 12 days.
"Rest is very critical," Dream coach Marynell Meadors said. "It was challenging, but we will continue to work hard and do some other things so we can do a better job in the game on Friday."
Atlanta could use better play from Betty Lennox, its top scorer at 17.3 points a contest. The guard managed one point and one shot against the Monarchs after scoring six points in a 110-84 loss at Phoenix on Saturday.
Lennox, though, has totaled 47 points in the two meetings with Washington.
Despite Lennox's recent struggles, Atlanta is getting strong contributions from Kasha Terry after she was signed in June following her release from Indiana. The center-forward has 31 points and 20 rebounds over the last two games after averaging 3.7 and 2.0, respectively, in her first 10 games with the Dream.