Series Preview: (2) Atlanta Dream vs. (3) Washington Mystics

By: Aman Ali, WNBA.com


The Washington Mystics will need focus heavily on trying to stop Angel McCoughtry and the Atlanta Dream.
NBAE/Getty Images



Which team will win the Conference Semifinal matchup between Atlanta and Washington?
Which team will win the Conference Semifinal matchup between Atlanta and Washington?
View Results

Game 1: Washington 71, Atlanta 56
Game 2: Atlanta 63, Washington 45
Game 3*: Atlanta 80, Washington 72
* if necessary
Game 1: Washington 71, Atlanta 56 RECAP | VIDEO
Game 2: Atlanta 63, Washington 45 RECAP | VIDEO
Game 3: Atlanta 80, Washington 72 RECAP | VIDEO

The Atlanta Dream are on a warpath led largely in part by 2.0 version of Angel McCoughtry. She's faster, stronger, better and most importantly she's wiser. And this season she's led the squad to new heights as they attempt to reach the WNBA Finals for the third time in the past four seasons.

New heights can't be mentioned in the WNBA without mentioning the coach Mike Thibault's brilliant turnaround of the Washington Mystics. Thibault joining the team this season, alongside All-Star Ivory Latta, has helped the team clinch a playoffs spot and squash its reputation as being one of the worst teams in the league. It's been nothing short of exciting to see how much turnaround this squad has made in just one season.

McCoughtry finishes the season with some of the most stellar numbers of her career, leading the league in scoring for the second consecutive year and in steals. She's also been the driving force behind the improvements of Tiffany Hayes and Erika de Souza, who have both taken the scoring burden on the team that McCoughtry used to carry.

Ivory Latta's animated presence both on and off the court has been the team's spark in generating some badly needed team chemistry. She's the backbone of the team and an excellent three-point shooter (leads the league in most 3 point field goals made this season) that will be a tough force for the Dream to stop. Add that to rookie guard Tayler Hill slowly hitting a stride this season and the Mystics will have a speedy backcourt that will be tough to stop.

The Dream may have the homecourt advantage in this series but their records this season are the exact same at 17-17. For the Dream to win this series, they will need to stay healthy. McCoughtry is likely to be a dominant force again this post season but she'll need help from her teammates to stay competitive. Tiffany Hayes has been in and out of the lineup this season with nagging injuries and a question mark still hangs over Sancho Lyttle being ready for playoffs action. McCoughtry is likely going to draw a double-team, if not triple-team, from the Mystics this series and her teammates will need to step up their production.

The Mystics, on the other hand, will need to focus heavily on their defense starting with Crystal Langhorne and Monique Currie stepping up their presence in the paint. The Dream's Erika de Souza is emerging as a dominant finisher under the rim and the Mystics will need to neutralize her since she's one of McCoughtry's favorite people to pass to. And speaking of McCoughtry, the Mystics will need to throw every resource available at her on both ends of the floor to slow down her and her team's momentum in the series.

Washington's resilience this season is likely to make this series not one to sleep on. Atlanta may be the favorite going into the series but expect Thibault and the Mystics to have a few tricks up their sleeves to try and shut the Dream down.



2013 Regular Season: Atlanta 3, Washington 2

Saturday, June 2, Verizon Center, Washington DC: Dream 73, Mystics 63 | Box Score | Highlights
Atlanta Leaders: Angel McCoughtry (15 pts., 5 ast., 4 stl.), Armintie Herrington (11 pts., 5 stl.)
Washington Leaders: Crystal Langhorne (15 pts., 2 stl.), Ivory Latta (14 pts., 7 ast.)

Friday, June 28, Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA: Dream 86, Mystics 75 | Box Score | Highlights
Atlanta Leaders: Angel McCoughtry (21 pts., 4 stl.), Alex Bentley (17 pts., 2 reb.)
Washington Leaders: Monique Currie (20 pts., 4 reb.), Ivory Latta (12 pts., 2 ast.)

Sunday, August 18, Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA: Dream 76, Mystics 58 | Box Score | Highlights
Atlanta Leaders: Angel McCoughtry (22 pts., 3 stl.), Tiffany Hayes (23 pts., 2 reb.)
Washington Leaders: Crystal Langhorne (9 pts., 9 reb.), Ivory Latta (12 pts., 3 ast.)

Friday, August 23, Verizon Center, Washington DC: Mystics 74, Dream 64 | Box Score | Highlights
Washington Leaders: Monique Currie (15 pts., 7 reb.), Kia Vaughn (12 pts., 10 reb.)
Atlanta Leaders: Angel McCoughtry (17pts., 8 ast.), Erika de Souza (14 pts., 12 reb.)

Wednesday, August 28, Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA: Mystics 85, Dream 80 | Box Score | Highlights
Washington Leaders: Ivory Latta (15 pts., 10 ast.), Monique Currie (15 pts., 2 stl.)
Atlanta Leaders: Angel McCoughtry (23 pts., 3 stl.), Alex Bentley (18 pts., 6 ast.)



See how the teams match up position by position (regular-season stats)

Jasmine Thomas, G, Dream
8.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.0 APG
Ivory Latta, G, Mystics
13.9 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 4.4 APG
Tiffany Hayes, G, Dream
11.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.7 APG
Matee Ajavon, G, Mystics
8.9 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 2.9 APG
Angel McCoughtry, G/F, Dream
21.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.4 APG
Monique Currie, F, Mystics
10.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.5 APG
Lecoe Willingham, F, Dream
4.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG, .8 APG
Crystal Langhorne, F/C, Mystics
12.0 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.3 APG
Erika de Souza, C, Dream
12.9 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 1.3 APG
Kia Vaughn, C, Mystics
6.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 0.6 APG
More

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