We have talked about Erika de Souza's absence from the Atlanta Dream lineup at length since she left after Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. She is scheduled to return to action for the Dream during Game 2 and Swish Appeal writer Nate Parham discusses what that means for the Atlanta Dream.
When you think about a team losing its starting center the easy assumption is that Atlanta would be hurt most in the rebounding category. While that is true to an extent that is only a part of the story. When de Souza returns to the lineup, it will provide the Dream with a inside presence at both ends of the floor. It should also erase some of the mismatches in the paint that the Minnesota Lynx enjoyed during their Game 1 victory.
If you have watched the Atlanta Dream this season, then you know how important it is for them to get to the basket offensively whether it be via the fast break or the half court set. The Dream aren't going to win a lot of shooting contests and Minnesota was successful in the second half of slowing the pace significantly for Atlanta and forced the Dream into taking a lot of jump shots.
In his article Parham discusses whether de Souza should return to the Dream's starting lineup for Game 2 of the Finals.
There is a pretty strong argument for de Souza not to start Game 2 - they've won two of three games without her and continuity is something worthy of consideration.
On the other hand, de Souza gives them "a comfort level in the post" - as Harding said - that might get them off on the right foot and help avoid the temptation to drift away from the basket. de Souza not only gives them a big target to look to, but also a player who can convert second chance opportunities.
Despite winning two of their last three games with Iziane Castro Marques in the starting lineup, Marynell Meadors will likely opt to reinsert de Souza into the starting lineup to add another big body to the lineup. Castro Marques was marvelous in Games 2 and 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals but was hardly efficient in Game 1 against Minnesota. Her contributions could be controlled better with her coming off the bench or Meadors could opt to bring Armintie Price off the bench given her struggles from Game 1.
For more on the Atlanta Dream, the Minnesota Lynx and the WNBA Finals be sure to check out SB Nation's Women's Hoops blog Swish Appeal.