Dream-Sun Preview

The Associated Press

The Connecticut Sun will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but they go into the regular-season finale still chasing one more goal.

The Sun are attempting to finish with the WNBA's second-best record and will try to secure that by knocking off the surging Atlanta Dream on Sunday.

Connecticut (24-9) will head into the postseason as the favorite to capture the East title, having recorded its winningest season since posting a franchise-record 26 victories in 2005 and 2006.

The Sun will begin the playoffs at home Thursday against New York, while No. 3 seed Atlanta opens at Indiana on Friday.

Connecticut, though, would like to have one more edge should it reach the WNBA finals and face a team other than league-best Minnesota. It can gain that with a victory over Atlanta (19-14).

"We're trying to win a game to have the second-best record in the league (behind the Lynx)," coach Mike Thibault said.

A victory would give them one more than Los Angeles, the second-place team in the West. Should they lose Sunday, the Sun would finish tied with the Sparks, and Los Angeles holds the tiebreaker after sweeping the season series.

Connecticut moved closer to that goal with a 73-67 win over the second-place Fever on Wednesday but was hardly thrilled with its performance. The Sun allowed Indiana to trim a 17-point lead in the third quarter down to five with 1:40 remaining.

Kara Lawson helped her team prevail by scoring nine of her team-best 23 points in the final four minutes.

"I think we're just a little disappointed," Lawson said. "They got it down to a two-possession game in the fourth, and we talked about at the start of the fourth about not letting up and putting the game away."

The Sun have won four of five but lost 87-80 in Atlanta on Sept. 2 as league scoring leader Angel McCoughtry scored 18 of her 24 points in the fourth quarter. That game marked McCoughtry's return from a two-game suspension for violating an undisclosed team rule.

With McCoughtry back, Atlanta has won seven of eight and a season-high four in a row. The U.S. Olympian, averaging 21.8 points, scored 21 in a 75-66 win at Chicago on Thursday.

The Dream now look to match their franchise record of 20 wins from a year ago, when they swept the Sun to open the playoffs en route to a second straight WNBA finals appearance.

"We're trying to get to 20 and keep winning," forward Sancho Lyttle said. "It keeps us motivated to go (further)."

Connecticut has won two of three matchups with the Dream this season, including 92-73 at home June 10 behind Tina Charles' 22 points and 11 rebounds.

Lawson added 21 points and converted all five 3-point attempts. The Sun made 61.7 from the field for the second-best shooting performance in franchise history.

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