The Chicago Sky came into Atlanta and rolled over the Dream on Saturday night in a potential preview of the WNBA's Eastern Conference championship. Behind a dominant 25 points from Elena Dellle Donne and aided by some stifling defense and poor shot selection by Atlanta, the Sky ran out comfortable winners in front of 7,412 fans at Phillips Arena in what might be a preview of the Eastern Conference playoff final.
Chicago came to Atlanta with the league's best record at 19-8 and having already clinched a playoff berth, but they wanted to prove a point to the Dream who had the best home record in the WNBA and who had previously beaten them by 14 in Atlanta.
After Saturday night there is no doubt who is the best team in the WNBA, Chicago dominated Atlanta despite a late Dream rally that closed the game to only four points the Sky never really looked threatened and eventually ran out comfortable winners.
Atlanta is hurting right now with Sancho Lyttle on the inactive roster with an ankle injury and Tiffany Hayes out with a sore left knee. Atlanta needed Lyttle particularly as the Chicago Sky attacked early on the inside with Delle Donne and Sylvia Fowles. Erika de Souza was able to keep Fowles quiet but Delle Donne had a field day scoring 17 of her 25 points in the first half.
"I think they were trying to change it up a little bit between defenders, but they were spending a lot of time trying to guard Sylvia,' Delle Donne said. 'When that happens, it always opens me up. That's why we are a multifaceted team. If one player is being focused on, another player steps up.''
While Delle Donna had a dominant offensive performance they were helped by a sputtering Atlanta offense. Too often in the first half Atlanta went to Angel McCoughtry who shot 5 of 16 for 16 points of Atlanta's 26 first half points.
In the second half the injury situation got worse for Atlanta. They lost Armintie Herrington really early to a head injury and while they were able to close the game to only two points, the Sky stepped it up a notch with an 8-0 run and never looked in trouble again.
Overall the Dream shot less than 29 percent from the field and just 27 percent in the second half. Coach Williams suggested the team were tired coming off the back of a road loss against the Washington Mystics the night before. No-one more than McCoughtry who shot 6 of 26. With a front court dominated by the Sky's Delle Donne and Fowles and a back court too heavily focused on a tired McCoughtry it was a tough night for the Dream. In an indication of just how thin the Dream were, the only other player who put the ball up more than ten times was Alex Bentley who went 5 of 14 on the evening.
Fortunately the Dream have a few days off before the Mystics come into town August 28. Hopefully Hayes and Herrington will be back to add some much needed depth to the Dream offense. Chicago’s next game is the Atlanta Dream back in the windy city August 31.