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Fan’s take: What the Dream need for first WNBA championship
The Atlanta Dream have had a high rate of success for a team in the league for only four years.
After a dismal first year, where they went an atrocious 4-30, the Dream have made the playoffs every year, including a trip to the Finals last year and this year. The Dream are tasked again with playing the team that has been overwhelmingly the best in the league all year: the Minnesota Lynx. Game 1 begins Sunday, Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. in Minnesota.
So what will it take for the Dream to take home the top prize this year?
The following are my keys for the Dream in the Finals:
1. Bales and other big bench forwards need to step up. The defense in the paint has been crucial to this year's success for the Dream. While Erika de Souza is scheduled to return after missing the last conference finals game, the bench will also need to take the pressure off of her, Sancho Lyttle and Angel McCoughtry.
Alison Bales has seen plenty of action this season with Sancho Lyttle being injured for a number of games. While not a huge scoring threat like de Souza, she provides similar tough defense down low, averaging 1.6 blocks and 4.7 rebounds on the regular season.
2. Shut down the outside game. On the defensive side, if there has been one thing that Dream have had difficulties, it is shutting down the opponent's outside shooting. The defense has been a lot better since Armintie Price was inserted into the starting lineup, providing a lot of energy up top, but opposing teams with good shooters still are able to spread the defense drawing out the big forwards.
Price and Lindsey Harding will need to watch out for picks set for Lynx shooters; in particular, Maya Moore, who went 6-8 in 3-pointers in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Mercury.
The Lynx's big forwards are also cause for concern, as veteran center Taj McWilliams-Franklin is a force in the paint and star forward Seimone Augustus is an all-around threat who can lead the offensive charge on any night, but the Dream play tough defense in the paint. Angel McCoughtry can back any driving opponent down, Sancho Lyttle is an immovable force down low and Erika de Souza is a rebound machine, averaging 10.7 rebounds in this year's postseason. Limiting the damage on the perimeter will be key to a Finals victory.
3. Whose playing No. 2 this time? There seems to be a different No. 2 scorer behind Angel McCoughtry every night. This shows the depth of the Dream as players seem to relish in stepping into the No. 2 scoring spot.
Forward Iziane Castro-Marques was No. 1 in game three of the Eastern Conference Finals, dropping a team-leading 30 points against the bewildered Indiana Fever. Marques is versatile asset who is able to play the guard or forward position. She lost the starting guard spot earlier in the year to Armintie Price but has been a real force off the bench and appreciated her time in the starting forward position with de Souza gone last game.
On any given night, the No. 2 could be hard-driving Harding, lightning-quick Price, powerful de Souza or paint-dominating Lyttle. It doesn't matter who steps up, as long as there is a No. 2 to take the pressure off McCoughtry, then the Dream are assured to take home the WNBA's top prize.
Charles McGregor is a member of the southeast and has been a Dream fan since their inception into the WNBA four years ago.
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