Series Preview: (2) Connecticut Sun vs. (3) Atlanta Dream

Sep 13 2011 9:04PM

Which team will win the Conference Semifinal matchup between Connecticut and Atlanta?
Which team will win the Conference Semifinal matchup between Connecticut and Atlanta?
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Game 1: Atlanta at Connecticut
Fri Sept. 16, 7 ET, NBA TV
Game 2: Connecticut at Atlanta
Sun Sept. 18, 3 ET, ESPN2
Game 3*: Atlanta at Connecticut
Tue Sept. 20, TBD, TBD
* if necessary
The first-round matchup between the Connecticut Sun and Atlanta Dream features two of the WNBA’s brightest young stars: Tina Charles of the Sun and Angel McCoughtry of the Dream, the last two winners of the Rookie of the Year award and former No. 1 overall picks in the draft.

Charles has led one of the youngest teams in the WNBA – the Sun feature six players with two years or less of pro experience – on a night-in and night-out basis all season long. She is the league’s leading rebounder (11.0 rpg), is second in blocks, sixth in scoring (17.6 ppg) and for the second straight year has set a WNBA single-season record for double-doubles, with the mark now at 23 after this year.

McCoughtry nearly won her first scoring title this season, falling to Diana Taurasi by 0.05 points per game (21.625 to 21.575) as she led the Dream on a remarkable turnaround. After opening the season at 3-9, the Dream went 17-5 the rest of the way to finish 20-14 and take the No. 3 seed in the East. Only the league-leading Minnesota Lynx had a better record over that span of time.

The teams split their season series at 2-2, with the Dream taking the most recent game on Sept. 6 by 11 points, the largest margin of victory in the series. Charles has performed well against the Dream, nearly matching her season averages with the exception of scoring, which is down 2.6 ppg and FG percentage, which is down 0.55 percent.

McCoughtry has elevated her game when facing the Sun, averaging 29.8 points (up 8.2 points over her average), 7.5 rebounds (up 2.3), 3.8 assists (up 1.3) and is shooting 0.456 from the field (up .032). She has also averaged just under 11 free throw attempts per game, which emphasizes how tough a matchup she is for the Sun on defense.

The Dream, with their trio of bigs, are one of the few teams in the WNBA that have the personnel to face Charles. Erika de Souza (6-foot-5), Sancho Lyttle (6-4) and Alison Bales (6-7) can offer different looks on defense to try to slow her down.

Meanwhile, to give Charles some assistance, the Sun will look toward fellow All-Star Renee Montgomery (14.6 ppg, 4.9 apg) at the point, veteran post Asjha Jones (13.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and guard Kara Lawson bringing the punch off the bench (10.4 ppg, 2.9 apg).

Some fast facts about the first-round matchup:
  • Just last year the Dream made a run to the WNBA Finals as the No. 4 seed in the East. To make it back they will need to do it on the road once again.
  • The Sun hold home-court advantage and have lost just twice at Mohegan Sun all season long, which ties them with Seattle for the best home record in the league.
  • However, the Dream are the only team in the East to finish with a record over .500 on the road (9-8).
  • The Dream and the Storm – the two teams that met in the Finals last year – have the longest winning streaks heading into the postseason at four games apiece.
  • Atlanta is the highest scoring team in the East (82.5 ppg) with Connecticut second (80.11).
  • Atlanta allows the third most points in the league (80.79), while Connecticut ranks seventh (76.82).



2011 Regular Season: Tied

Sunday, July 31, Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT: Sun 99, Dream 92 | Box score | Highlights
Atlanta Leaders: Angel McCoughtry (36 pts., 4 reb.), Erika de Souza (18 pts., 9 reb.)
Connecticut Leaders: Tina Charles (10 pts., 11 reb.), Renee Montgomery (19 pts., 4 ast.)

Friday, August 19, Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA: Dream 94, Sun 88 | Box score | Highlights
Connecticut Leaders: Tina Charles (15 pts., 10 reb.), Ashja Jones (21 pts., 9 reb.)
Atlanta Leaders: Angel McCoughtry (26 pts., 12 reb.), Lindsey Harding (21 pts., 5 ast.)

Sunday, August 21, Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT: Sun 96, Dream 87 | Box score | Highlights
Atlanta Leaders: Angel McCoughtry (22 pts., 9 reb.), Erika de Souza (17 pts., 10 reb.)
Connecticut Leaders: Ashja Jones (18 pts., 10 reb.), Renee Montgomery (21 pts., 8 ast.)

Tuesday, September 6, Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA: Dream 85, Sun 74 | Box score | Highlights
Connecticut Leaders: Tina Charles (17 pts., 10 reb.), Renee Montgomery (16 pts., 7 ast.)
Atlanta Leaders: Angel McCoughtry (35 pts., 5 reb.), Sancho Lyttle (12 pts., 12 reb.)



See how the teams match up position by position

Renee Montgomery, G, Sun
14.6 PPG, 4.9 APG, 1.4 SPG
Note: Floor general, team leader in APG, SPG
Lindsey Harding, G, Dream
10.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 4.0 APG
Note: First season with dream, led team in assists
Kalana Greene, G, Sun
5.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.5 APG
Note: First-year starter had career highs in PT, REB, AST
Armintie Price, G, Dream
8.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.8 APG
Note: Earned career-high in PPG
Danielle McCray, G/F, Sun
5.9 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.2 APG
Note: Rookie from Kansas started 23 of 34 games
Angel McCoughtry, F, Dream
21.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.5 APG
Note: MVP candidate, second in WNBA in PPG
Ashja Jones, F, Sun
13.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.9 APG
Note: Attempted a career high 24 shots at Atlanta on 8/19
Sancho Lyttle, F, Dream
10.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.1 APG
Note: Team leader in rebounds
Tina Charles, C, Sun
17.6 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 1.8 BPG
Note: Double-double machine, MVP contender
Erika de Souza, C, Dream
11.8 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.3 BPG
Note: Has started every game that she has played over last 3 years

Western Conference

Conference Finals

Conference Semi Finals

Eastern Conference

Conference Finals

Conference Semi Finals