Dream-Mystics Preview

The Associated Press

The Atlanta Dream are hitting their stride at the right time.

The league-worst Washington Mystics keep stumbling to the finish.

Atlanta goes for its first season sweep in this Eastern Conference matchup Friday night when the host Mystics try to avoid a 10th straight defeat.

After closing last season with a 17-5 stretch en route to a second consecutive WNBA finals appearance, the Dream (17-14) are once again coming on strong in the final weeks. Atlanta has won five of six heading into a regular season-ending three-game trip.

"We're finally meshing," guard Armintie Price said Tuesday after a 77-61 victory over Seattle. "It's late in the season to do it. But the best time to do it."

The Dream, a season-best three games above .500, can match the franchise record for wins set in 2011 if they win out, but a title is the goal after they were swept in the finals each of the last two postseasons.

While Atlanta will likely need big production from Angel McCoughtry, the league's leading scorer with 21.7 points per game, the club has played well lately with McCoughtry coming off the bench following a two-game absence for personal reasons and a two-game ban for violating an unspecified team rule.

"(Coming off the bench is) what I did in the Olympics," said McCoughtry, a gold medal winner with the U.S. team. "It doesn't matter."

What does matter is that the Dream are sharing the ball and getting everyone involved. Of their 197 field goals in the last six games, 117 have come off assists. Atlanta recorded 20 assists on 29 field goals Tuesday.

"The team shared the basketball again," said coach Fred Williams, who is 5-2 since taking over for the fired Marynell Meadors. "It's starting to come for us. We want to play that kind of basketball and play well."

The Dream have played that way in three matchups with the Mystics (5-25) in 2012, handing out 68 assists on 100 field goals and winning by an average of 20.0 points.

Lindsey Harding is averaging team highs with 15.7 points and 6.3 assists in those contests after scoring 15 points with nine assists in Atlanta's 93-68 home win Sunday.

Atlanta is shooting 50.3 percent from the field against Washington this season, which is not surprising given the Mystics' field goal defense (46.6 percent) is the second-worst in the league.

If Washington is going to salvage a game against the Dream this season, it will likely have to put together a more complete effort than in Wednesday's 75-62 loss at New York. The Mystics were outscored 19-7 in the final quarter and are now averaging 67.7 points since their last victory.

"We got cold and the Liberty were able to take advantage of that," said forward Monique Currie, who finished with a season-high 24 points.

Washington will move within one game of the franchise's longest skid if it can't snap a four-game losing streak to Atlanta.

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