Facing a deciding game 3 on Monday night, the Atlanta Dream fell behind early but recovered and eventually overcame the Washington Mystics 80-72 to advance to the WNBA's Eastern Conference finals against the Indiana Fever.
The game could be broken quite neatly into two phases as the Dream's poor shooting in the first three quarters caused them to fall behind early and they struggled to keep up with the Mystics who used a fast paced, physical game to out-run and out-muscle their hosts. Only their play on the boards kept them in the game early.
Washington were up by as many as 11 in the first quarter before the Dream started rebounding their way back into it to end the period down by only two points.
In the second quarter another Mystic surge saw them extend their lead to as many as seven points but the Dream kept their composure and played the boards very well to ensure they stayed in the game.
The Dream stayed close to the Mystics through the first three periods because of their play on the offensive boards and some untimely turnovers by Mystics. By the end of the third quarter the Dream were down by only two points.
By the end of the third period the Mystics were in foul trouble. Four of their starters had four personal fouls each. They couldn't afford to be as physical in the fourth quarter as they had been and the Dream took full advantage of that fact.
Having shot only 34% from the field through the first three quarters the Dream lit it up in the fourth shooting 62.5% from the field. By contrast the Mystics went cold shooting only 25% for the fourth period. Erika de Souza had a huge quarter with 10 points and 7 rebounds to lead the Dream as they eventually pulled away from the Mystics to win by eight points.
After the game Angel McCoughtry summed up the series perfectly "In the first game, we didn't have a sense of urgency,' McCoughtry said. "(In Games 2 and 3), everyone played with so much heart. It was definitely a big difference, and that is what it takes to win a championship.''
Game One of the Eastern Conference Final between the Atlanta Dream and the Indiana Fever will take place in Philips Arena on Thursday night with a tip-off scheduled for 7pm.