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Sunday, October 2, 2022

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The Atlanta Dream needs help to make it to the WNBA playoffs on the final day of the regular season


First, I’d like to start this column by giving an update on the status of Brittany Griner. The Russian government is currently in talks with the US government about a possible prisoner exchange. Let us all hope and pray that these talks are successful and that Griner, Paul Whelan, and all US citizens detained in Russia can return from overseas and be reunited with their families.

In the actual game itself, the Atlanta Dream’s playoff hopes took a big hit when they fell flat on their faces against the New York Liberty 80-70 on Friday night. They are now ranked 10th in the WNBA standings, two places outside the final playoff seed. They must win on Sunday and enlist the help of the Phoenix Mercury to make it through.

Watching the game from afar, it was easy to see why Dream lost the game. The Liberty had 20 assists, compared to just 13 for Dream. The Liberty was led as usual by All-Star Sabrina Ionescu, with 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists. As a team, the Liberty shot 47% and made three other starts in two points: Betanijah Layne (17 points), Natasha Howard (14 points and 12 rebounds) and Crystal Dangerfield (18 points and six assists).

Meanwhile, at the other end of the court, incompetence ruled the day for Dream as they shot just 37.5% as a team led by Rhine Howard, with 14 points, but 21.4% on shooting. Aari Macdonald also had 10 points, but on 26.7 per cent shooting. The other two two-point scorers for the Dream were Erica Wheeler (16 points) and Cheyenne Parker (13 points).

Truth be told, even though I have been impressed with this team throughout the year, I am not sure about this team’s chances of making it to the playoffs due to its relative youth and inexperience. Atlanta Dream head coach Tanisha Wright summed it up perfectly when she said her team was “flat” and “a bit of a rattle” and that they “didn’t handle the moment like we needed to handle that moment.”

This is certainly true, as Dream initially got off to a hot start, yet he allowed the Liberty to shoot nearly 80 percent at one point in the first quarter and the Liberty 31–27 in the second. Was able to go quarter. After that, it was largely entirely up to Liberty and the Dream never led again, even leading to a 22-point lead at one point.

With this defeat, it all comes to an end on Sunday as Dream travels to Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York to face Liberty for the second straight game. They must win on the road and the Mercury will have to lose to defending champion Chicago Sky in a rematch of last year’s WNBA Finals to make the playoffs. As someone who has played for Liberty for three seasons, Coach Wright certainly looks forward to the challenge.

“I’m a competitor at the end of the day,” Coach Wright said. “I still enjoy competing, so every day, I tell them to go out there and enjoy the competition.”

We’ll see if that is because clearly, I was surprised by this team’s lack of competitive spirit in their home finish, as they allowed too many open shots. Furthermore, there was no sense of urgency because of the offense at the end of the game as he took his sweet time on a lot of property and even made a few trips with three minutes left.

I really hope this team will emulate their coach’s example and really go out and compete and take the next step as a young team. It’s been fun covering this team throughout the season and I’m really looking forward to seeing this team grow and develop in the future, but for now, let’s hope they show something subtle when it matters.

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