Will Hayes, Dream Bounce Back In Game 2?
By Jameelah Johnson
The Atlanta Dream must execute on a few notables if they are looking to win Game 2 of the semifinals. The barrage of threes from the Washington Mystics hurt Atlanta throughout in the first contest. Washington shot 42.3 percent from the perimeter, meaning close to half of their made field goals came from threes.
The Dream had 22 free throw attempts but missed six of them, while Washington hit all 20 of their attempts. Atlanta, known for their top-notch defense, grabbed zero steals in the game. Their average going into the playoffs was 7.6 steals per game. Atlanta was third in the league for steals.
As balanced as the Dream can be, the importance of Tiffany Hayes and her impact can't be overlooked. With the absence of their top scorer in Angel McCoughtry, Hayes sets the tone. Her slow start, an early turnover, 2 of 7 in the first half, and the Dream were down nine at halftime. She did, however, explode late in the game, finishing with 17 points. Not all the blame lies on Hayes, as the aforementioned team misdraws contributed to the loss, but for Atlanta to bounce back, Hayes will need to start the game strong. They can't afford to fall behind a team like Washington, stacked with three-point shooters and a big in Elena Delle Donne.
Jessica Breland defended Delle Donne as best as anyone could ask for, making EDD attempt (but often hit) fadeaway jumpers and grabbing rebounds off of her own misses. Delle Donne attempted 10 free throws. It'd be ideal if she were at the line fewer times. She shot 88.7 percent from there during the regular season and 93.4 percent from there during her career. Breland appeared off her offensive game, hitting just 2 of 8 shots in the game. Her most notable miss was a straightaway three that rimmed in and out. In the two wins Atlanta had over Washington during the season, Breland scored in double-digits and notched a double-double in each. That type of offensive game is critical in a game, especially with Atlanta losing its depth which was one of their greatest strengths during the season.
For all of the missteps, the Dream lost by just three. While having a win dangled so closely can be devastating, they saw it as promising. This Atlanta team has the fight and talent in them to come out victorious over Washington but they must control the tempo, led by Hayes. ReplyReply allForward