Atlanta Looking To Complete Dream Season

 

By Dorothy J. Gentry

 

It’s been back and forth for four games.

But tonight, somebody’s going home - for good.

And the Atlanta Dream, the Cinderella story of the WNBA season, hope it’s not them.

The high stakes semifinal winner-take-all, win-or-go-home game between the No. 2 Dream and the No. 3 Washington Mystics is set for a few hours from now in Atlanta, 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

The Dream had a chance to close out the Mystics on the road in this best-of-five series on Sunday but Washington had other plans. The return of Ellena Dell Donne, who missed Game 3 with a left  knee bone bruise, gave new life to the Mystics and they throttled the Dream on their home court 97-76 to force tonight’s decisive Game 5.

The Dream – the surprise team of the season whose first year Head Coach Nicki Collen just won Coach of the Year – were the favorites in the series but endured a surprise loss at home in Game 1, 87-84. They recovered behind some stellar defense – including Alex Bentley’s team-high 22 points and Jessica Breland’s 14 rebounds and 7 blocks - in Game 2 and evened the series 1-1 with a 78-75 win.

Game 3 saw Tiffany Hayes – (still trying to figure out how she wasn’t an All-Star this year) scoring 23 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Dream to an 81-76 win in Washington.

Tonight’s match-up will be must-see TV as one team’s postseason dreams – no pun intended – come to an end.

The Mystics have never reached the WNBA finals in the franchise's 21 seasons. Atlanta is one victory away from the franchise's fourth finals appearance and first since 2013. They have ended three seasons in the finals but were swept each time.

The Dream won 15 of its final 17 games to finish with a 23-11 record – an 11-game improvement over last season’s 12-22 mark.  The 23 victories are the most in franchise history, surpassing the previous mark of 20 set in 2011 (20-14). The season-ending 15-2 numbers included a franchise record eight-game winning streak.

Stay tuned tonight to find out who punches their ticket to the WNBA Finals.