Fever-Dream Preview

The Associated Press

The Atlanta Dream weren't at their best the last time out, but leading scorer Angel McCoughtry helped them find a way to win.

The defending WNBA champion Indiana Fever haven't done that since opening night.

Atlanta will try to continue its franchise-best start and extend its team-record home winning streak Tuesday against the injury-plagued Fever.

Up by 13 at the end of the third quarter, the Dream (7-1) held on Sunday for a 78-77 victory at Connecticut. McCoughtry scored 10 of the team's 14 fourth-quarter points - including the winning layup with 51.4 seconds left - to finish with a season-best 34.

The reigning scoring champ is second in the league with 21.3 points per game.

"I should've played better defense when they were coming back,'' McCoughtry said, "but we kind of needed this test because we haven't had many games like this. This is good for us. We needed a test like this."

It's uncertain what kind of test the league-worst Fever (1-6) will provide as they arrive in Atlanta on their worst skid since July 2007. Indiana hasn't dropped seven straight since a franchise-worst 10-game slide in its inaugural 2000 season.

The team could be hard-pressed to avoid that if 2011 MVP Tamika Catchings doesn't return after missing Saturday's 71-61 loss to Chicago with a lower back strain. The Fever continue to play without Erin Phillips (knee), Jeanette Pohlen (knee), star guard Katie Douglas (lower back) and center Jessica Davenport, who's done for the season with a stress fracture in her lower left leg.

"On paper, we aren't even supposed to be close,'' coach Lin Dunn said. "They should've blown us out of the building. You've got to give these players (credit) for battling.''

Shavonte Zellous has done a nice job in Douglas' absence - she's averaging a team-best 18.0 points on 47.4 percent shooting - but the Fever rank last in the league from the field at 38.2 percent. They're also averaging a WNBA-worst 67.6 points.

That doesn't bode well against an Atlanta team yielding the fewest points per game (70.4) and recording the most steals with 12.8 per contest.

The Dream had 12 steals in an 86-77 victory May 31 that ruined Indiana's home opener.

McCoughtry led all players with 29 points in that contest, the first between these teams since Indiana won the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals. The Fever avoided elimination in their last visit to Philips Arena, posting a 103-88 Game 2 victory Sept. 30.

Dream fans could get their first look at center Ruth Riley after she signed last week with Sancho Lyttle gone with the Spanish national team. Lyttle is expected to return following Atlanta's three-game homestand.

The Dream are 4-0 at Philips Arena for the first time, winning by an average of 14.8 points.

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