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Dream-Mystics Preview

AP - Sports

After starting slowly in each of the past two seasons, the Atlanta Dream are off to a much better beginning in 2013.

The Dream try to improve to 3-0 while spoiling Washington Mystics coach Mike Thibault's home debut Sunday.

Atlanta started 3-9 in 2011 and 4-7 in 2012 before recovering to make the playoffs in each season. Point guard Lindsey Harding left for Los Angeles, but the Dream have seemed to buck their slow-starting trend with a pair of wins to open this season.

Angel McCoughtry had 29 points and nine rebounds in the latest of those victories, 86-77 at defending champion Indiana on Friday. The Dream shot 50.0 percent while spoiling the Fever's title celebration.

"We played well, especially against Indiana, one of the best teams," McCoughtry said. "We still have a lot to work on, and we have to get better each game."

The Dream will try to keep improving while continuing their recent dominance over the Mystics. Atlanta has won five straight in the series since an 85-81 defeat in the nation's capital on Sept. 1, 2011.

The Dream won last season's four meetings by an average of 17.0 points and have earned victories in four of their last five visits to Washington.

The Mystics, though, could come into this game with some renewed optimism after winning their first game under Thibault, a two-time WNBA coach of the year who spent the previous decade leading Connecticut. Ivory Latta scored 27 points against Tulsa, her former club, in a 95-90 overtime victory Monday.

"We're going to play some pretty good teams coming up so we're going to have to play a lot better than we did," Thibault said. "But 1-0 is a great start and gives a good positive vibe to everything you're doing."

Since losing to Atlanta in the 2010 playoffs, Washington has finished last in the Eastern Conference in each of the past two seasons while posting a combined 11-57 record. The Mystics lost a franchise-record 13 straight games while ending 2012 with a 5-29 record, their fewest wins since going 3-27 in their inaugural 1998 season.

"It's very important for us to get off to a great start. I told the team before the (Tulsa) game that we need to set the tone on how we should be playing the whole team," Latta said. "We stuck together. That showed a lot of character."

The Dream and Mystics have split their 20 all-time meetings in the regular season.

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