The Atlanta Dream ended the 2012 regular season on a hot streak, only to bow out in the first round after back-to-back appearances in the WNBA finals.
They should hope backing into this postseason will have a reverse effect and lead to a deep playoff run.
Atlanta looks to halt a three-game losing streak with a victory over the host San Antonio Silver Stars in its regular-season finale Sunday.
The Dream entered last year's playoffs winning four of five, but their bid for a third straight Eastern Conference crown ended with a three-game loss to Indiana in the conference semifinals.
Atlanta (17-16) has sputtered down the stretch this season, dropping seven of 10 after Friday's 87-82 defeat to first-place Chicago. Angel McCoughtry, averaging a league-best 22.0 points, scored 29 for the Dream, who were outscored 25-17 in the final quarter.
"We still fought hard and tried to attack the basket and make things happen (in the final minutes)," coach Fred Williams said. "We came out empty on some of those possessions."
Erika de Souza added 11 points and 13 rebounds for Atlanta, which has locked up the East's No. 2 seed and will face either Indiana or Washington in a best-of-three first-round series.
The Dream are 4-12 away from home and will finish with the worst road mark of any of the eight playoff qualifiers no matter Sunday's result. They've lost 11 of 12 on the road but hope to head into the postseason on a positive note by defeating a San Antonio team that will miss the playoffs.
The Silver Stars (11-22) have dropped four straight after Friday's 82-61 loss to Phoenix. Danielle Adams and Shenise Johnson each had 11 points, but coach Dan Hughes said his club looked fatigued toward the end of the contest.
San Antonio has been struck hard by injuries, as Becky Hammon (ACL), Sophia Young (ACL), Davellyn Whyte (Achilles) and Danielle Robinson (knee) all have missed time.
Hughes was forced to use an eight-woman rotation Friday.
"I told the team I just wish I could have had them a little fresher," Hughes said. "I think we expended a lot of energy to put us down seven at the end of three and then in the fourth quarter we just didn't have the legs to finish."
Tiffany Hayes scored a game-high 19 points and McCoughtry added 15 and nine assists as Atlanta beat San Antonio 93-67 on June 30.
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