Dream Swept By Lynx, Atlanta Native Maya Moore Wins WNBA Title

The Atlanta Dream fell, 73-67, to lose Game 3 of the 2011 WNBA Finals, marking their second-straight year as runner-up.

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2011 WNBA Finals: Minnesota Defeats Atlanta 73-67 To Win Championship

A rough third quarter proved costly for the Atlanta Dream as they were defeated by the Minnesota Lynx 73-67 and swept out of the WNBA Finals. Seimone Augustus led the way for the Lynx scoring 16 points and was named as Finals MVP. 

Atlanta led at halftime in all three games but was unable to hold the lead in the second half. The Dream came out sluggish in the third period where they were outscored 19-8 by the Lynx and they never were able to find their rhythm on offense with Minnesota successfully controlling the pace. 

Angel McCoughtry finished with a game-high 25 points but needed 25 shots to reach that total. Erika De Souza finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds. Iziane Castro Marques added nine points off the bench including a three pointer that cut the Minnesota lead to just one point late in the fourth. 

Maya Moore scored 15 points and added yet another championship to her remarkable career. Rebekkah Brunson finished with 13 points and nine rebounds while Candice Wiggins added 10. 

Atlanta looked tired in most of this game like the weight of an entire season had finally come crashing down on their shoulders. They hit just 35 percent of their shots in Game 3. After the game, Marynell Meadors gave credit to Minnesota for their balance. Consider that Atlanta lost despite forcing 20 turnovers and attempting 17 more shots than the Lynx. Minnesota's defense made Atlanta work and they simply couldn't put a shot down when they needed it the most. 

For more on the this game and the WNBA, be sure and check out Swish Appeal

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Lynx Vs. Dream Score: Minnesota Clamps Down In Third, Take 52-45 Lead

Minnesota outscored Atlanta 19-8 in the third quarter and take a 52-45 lead into the fourth quarter of Game 3. The Lynx has been successful slowing the pace and Atlanta simply has not been able to hit a shot as their shooting percentage for the game has plummeted to 33 percent. 

Minnesota found a good rhythm in the third and are shooting a healthy 44 percent. They are enjoying balanced scoring across the board with Seimone Augustus leading the way with 12 points. Rebekkah Brunson and Maya Moore have 11 each while Candice Wiggins has 10. 

Atlanta is still holding its own on the boards and are taking care of the basketball reasonably well with just 10 turnovers. Angel McCoughtry leads the way with 13 points but is just 6 for 17 from the field. If they are going to extend this series they are going to have to find a way to put the ball in the basket in the fourth in what has not been their strongest quarter in the series. 

For more on the WNBA Finals, the Atlanta Dream and the Minnesota Lynx, be sure and check out SB Nation's Women's Hoops blog Swish Appeal.

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WNBA Finals 2011: Atlanta Takes 37-33 Lead Into Halftime Of Game 3

For the third consecutive game in the WNBA Finals, the Atlanta Dream have taken a lead into halftime. The Dream lead the Lynx 37-33 at the half and now must focus on holding that lead in the second half. 

Marynell Meadors has to like the balance that she has seen from her team in the early going. Angel McCoughtry leads the way with 11 points on 5 for 12 shooting. Erika de Souza and Sancho Lyttle are close behind with nine and eight points respectively. De Souza has nine rebounds as the Dream battled the Lynx to a 20-20 tie at the half on the boards. 

Candice Wiggins came off the bench to nail three baskets from beyond-the-arc and leads Minnesota with nine points. Seimone Augustus has eight points and Rebekkah Brunson seven for the Lynx. 

Causes for concerns from both teams: Atlanta is once again struggling from the free throw line shooting only 60 percent in the first half. Turnovers are a big concern for Minnesota as they have turned the ball over 12 times leading to 10 points for Atlanta. 

For more on the WNBA Finals, the Atlanta Dream and the Minnesota Lynx, be sure and check out SB Nation's Women's Hoops blog Swish Appeal.

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Dream Vs. Lynx Score: Atlanta Grabs 20-17 Lead Over Minnesota After One

The Atlanta Dream jumped out to an early 20-17 lead behind a loud and enthusiastic Philips Arena crowd. The Dream have made a concerted effort to get the ball inside and Erika de Souza has eight early points. 

Things turned a little more physical late in the period and Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve was hit with an early technical foul. De Souza leads all scorers with her eight points and has seven early rebounds. Angel McCoughtry finished the quarter with six. 

Candice Wiggins nailed two three pointers to lead the Lynx with six points. Rebekkah Brunson has five points and three rebounds in the early going. 

Both teams are shooting under 50 percent from the floor and if there is a cause for concern for the Dream it is that they once again struggled from the free throw line hitting only four of seven attempts in the quarter. 

For more on the WNBA Finals, the Atlanta Dream and the Minnesota Lynx, be sure and check out SB Nation's Women's Hoops blog Swish Appeal.

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WNBA Finals, Lynx Vs. Dream: Atlanta Looks To Defend Home Court In Game 3

The WNBA Finals shifts to Atlanta and the Dream are hoping to hold off elimination and force a Game 4 on Sunday. Atlanta dropped Games 1 & 2 in Minnesota and now have their backs squarely to the wall in the best-of-five series.

Atlanta entered the fourth quarter in both games of the series either tied or with the lead only to watch it slip away. In Game 3, Atlanta will have to avoid the many mental breakdowns that plagued them in Game 2 and they are hoping to catch a break from the officials that sent the Lynx to the free throw line 24 times in the fourth quarter alone. 

"I think the thing that really turned the game around, they had 24 free throws to our seven in the fourth quarter," Meadors said.

Atlanta was whistled for 33 fouls in the game which was 10 more than Minnesota. Officiating aside Atlanta also has to look hard at their fourth quarter execution as another reason for the Game 2 loss. When Minnesota wasn't at the free throw line, they were executing their offense to get the shot that they wanted. Too often in the fourth quarter, Atlanta broke down into too much one-on-one play.

Angel McCoughtry was magnificent for much of Game 2, however the challenge for coach Marynell Meadors is to get her team to execute where they can get the ball in McCoughtry's hands in positions where she can be successful. Atlanta's head down approach made things easy for the Lynx to defend and they are too good defensively for the Dream to have any success with that approach. 

Tip off from Philips Arena is scheduled for 8 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN 2. 

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WNBA Finals 2011: Minnesota Comes From Behind To Defeat Atlanta 101-95

Atlanta entered the fourth quarter with a healthy five point lead before being outscored 32-21 in the fourth to fall 101-95. The Dream are now down 0-2 to the Lynx in the best-of-five-series. 

When looking back on this game, Atlanta will point to a couple of things. First, Atlanta was only 21-32 from the free throw line in the game. Second, Atlanta's offense once again broke down in the fourth quarter as Minnesota tightened the screws. After a splendid first half, Angel McCoughtry and company tried to force things off the dribble and the Lynx are much too good defensively for that to be successful for long. Atlanta's five second half assists well illustrates the lack of any cohesion on offense. Atlanta may also choose to look at the 33 personal fouls that were called against them that led to 46 free throw attempts by the Lynx.

Angel McCoughtry broke her own WNBA Finals record for points in a game with 38. Her 10 for 22 shooting though pales in comparison to her 8 for 9 first half. Lindsey Harding finished with 16 points and seven assists. Iziane Castro Marques came off the bench to score 14 and Sancho Lyttle netted 13 before fouling out. Erika de Souza returned to the lineup and finished with eight points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks. 

Seimone Augustus led the way for the Lynx with 36 points on a very efficient 11 for 14 shooting. Augustus was 13 for 16 from the free throw line where she successfully closed this game out in the fourth quarter. Jessica Adair and Lindsay Whalen each finished with 13 points.

Atlanta had a slight edge in rebounding (31-30) and in turnovers (7-12) but couldn't overcome the free throw disparity. Minnesota finished 38-46 from the free throw line, outscoring the Dream by 17 points. 

The series shifts to Atlanta on Friday where the Dream will try and stave off elimination at Philips Arena.

For more on the WNBA Finals, the Atlanta Dream and the Minnesota Lynx, be sure and check out SB Nation's Women's Hoops blog Swish Appeal.

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Dream Vs. Lynx Score: Atlanta On Top After Three 74-69

The Atlanta Dream closed out the third quarter with a min run to take a 74-69 lead into the fourth against the Minnesota Lynx in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals. 

After a red hot first half, Angel McCoughtry came out cold in the second but once again found a rhythm late in the quarter. She now has 33 points to go along with three rebounds and three steals. Lindsey Harding has 12 points and six assists while Iziane Castro Marques has 11 points off the bench. Both Sancho Lyttle and Erika de Souza enter the fourth quarter with four fouls each.

Seimone Augustus spent a lot of the third quarter chasing McCoughtry and has 21 points and six rebounds to lead the Lynx. Taj McWilliams-Franklin has 10 points while Rebekkah Brunson netted eight. 

For more on the WNBA Finals, the Atlanta Dream and the Minnesota Lynx, be sure and check out SB Nation's Women's Hoops blog Swish Appeal.

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WNBA Finals: Angel McCoughtry's 24 Points Has Atlanta In Front 58-50 At Halftime

Angel McCoughtry scored 24 first half points as the Atlanta Dream lead the Minnesota Lynx 58-50 at the intermission. McCoughtry's three point basket as the 2nd quarter horn extended Atlanta's lead to eight.

McCoughtry is 8-9 from the field and 6-7 from the free throw line. She also has two rebounds, two steals and a block for Atlanta. Lindsey Harding has 10 points and five assists at the break. Erika de Souza returned to the starting lineup and finished the half with six points and four rebounds. Iziane Castro Marques came off the bench to score eight points including two three pointers. 

Lost somewhere in the Angel McCoughtry show is the first half performance from Seimone Augustus who single handily kept the Lynx within striking distance. Augustus has 19 points on 8-10 shooting to lead Minnesota. Jessica Adair came off the bench to score six for the Lynx. 

Atlanta has been sharp during the first half as their ball movement has led to some good looks for their offense. Erika de Souza's return played a part as the Dream out rebounded the Lynx 16-10 in the first half. 

For more on the WNBA Finals, the Atlanta Dream and the Minnesota Lynx, be sure and check out SB Nation's Women's Hoops blog Swish Appeal.

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Dream Vs. Lynx Score: Atlanta Leading Minnesota 28-22 After One

Angel McCoughtry and Lindsey Harding combined for 20 points as the Atlanta Dream captured an early 28-22 lead over the Minnesota Lynx after the first quarter of Game 2 of the WNBA Finals. Erika de Souza returned to the starting lineup and the result has been a much tougher interior presence thus far for the Dream.

Angel McCoughtry leads the Dream with 12 points on perfect 4 of 4 shooting. Harding added eight points and 1 assists while Sancho Lyttle finished with four points. 

Atlanta doubled up Minnesota 8-4 in rebounding during the first quarter and forced five turnovers from the Lynx. Seimone Augustus led the way with five points for the Lynx while Lindsay Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson finished with four each. Maya Moore was likely lost for the remainder of the first half after picking up three personal fouls in the first quarter. 

For more on the WNBA Finals, the Atlanta Dream and the Minnesota Lynx, be sure and check out SB Nation's Women's Hoops blog Swish Appeal.

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WNBA Finals, Dream Vs. Lynx: Atlanta Looking For Bounce Back In Game 2

If the Atlanta Dream are going to have a chance against the Minnesota Lynx then they are going to have to find a way to slow down Rebekkah Brunson. Minnesota's All-Star forward finished Game 1 with 26 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots as she was a major factor at both ends of the floor.

Atlanta was out rebounded by a 40-28 margin and outscored  52-30 in the paint. The Dream's frontcourt will receive a shot in the arm as center Erika de Souza returns from her stint with the Brazilian National team. De Souza's return to the lineup will likely change the match ups as Angel McCoughtry will shift back to the small forward position. How Atlanta deals with Brunson could be the key to the whole series.

In Game 1, Atlanta entered the fourth quarter with the score tied 62-62 and proceeded to be held scoreless for nearly five minutes while Minnesota began the quarter with a 13-0 run. During that crucial stretch, the Dream were hampered by turnovers and little movement on the offensive end of the floor. Early on Atlanta was able to get out in transition and once the game slowed, Minnesota clamped down defensively. 

Getting the ball into the paint as well as in transition will be a big key for the Dream in Game 2 and de Souza's return to the lineup should help. Angel McCoughtry was outstanding finishing with 33 points and a WNBA Finals record 19 points in the 3rd quarter alone. However, she is going to need help from her teammates if Atlanta is to steal Game 2 from the Lynx. 

Consider that Lindsey Harding scored 16 of her 20 points in the first half of Game 1. Iziane Castro Marques scored all 10 of her points in the first half and only attempted one field goal after halftime. Armintie Price and Sancho Lyttle combined for three points on 0 for 10 shooting from the field. Erika De Souza will give Atlanta another weapon but Angel McCoughtry's supporting cast will have to play much better the second go round. 

For more on the WNBA Finals, the Atlanta Dream and the Minnesota Lynx, be sure and check out SB Nation's Women's Hoops blog Swish Appeal

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WNBA Finals: Erika De Souza's Return More Than About Rebounding

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

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WNBA Finals 2011, Dream Vs. Lynx Final Score: Angel McCoughtry Scores 33 But Minnesota Takes Game 1 88-74

Atlanta entered the fourth quarter tied with Minnesota before the Lynx ripped off a 13-0 run that held the Dream scoreless for nearly five minutes of the fourth quarter. The Lynx would go on to outscore the Dream 26-12 over the final ten minutes and take Game 1 by a score of 88-74.

Atlanta was able to build as much as a 12 point lead during the first half but Minnesota continued to chip away until they drew even in the third. The Lynx defense proved to be too much for the Dream in the fourth as turnovers proved costly for Atlanta. The Dream entered the fourth quarter with just three turnovers but committed six in the fourth quarter alone. With the pressure on, Atlanta's offense settled into too much isolation and one on one play while Minnesota found a nice rhythm at both ends of the floor. 

Angel McCoughtry finished with 33 points, five rebounds, three steals, and two blocks. She set a WNBA Finals record with 19 points in the third quarter. Lindsey Harding did most of her damage in the first half and finished with 20 points and five assists. Iziane Castro Marques scored all 10 of her points in the first half and attempted just one shot in the second after putting up 14 tries in the first half. Armintie Price and Sancho Lyttle struggled throughout finishing with just three points combined. 

Rebekkah Brunson led the way for the Lynx with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Seimone Augustus added 22 points and seven assists while backcourt mate Lindsay Whalen finished with 15 points and six assists. 

For more on the WNBA Finals, the Atlanta Dream and the Minnesota Lynx then be sure and check out SB Nation's Women's Hoops blog Swish Appeal.

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Dream Vs. Lynx Score: Angel McCoughtry Sets WNBA Finals Mark, Atlanta And Minnesota Tied 62-62 After Three

Angel McCoughtry set a WNBA Finals record by scoring 19 of her 25 points in the third quarter but the Minnesota Lynx rallied to tie things up at 62-62 after three quarters of play. McCoughtry has made 9 of 16 shots in the game to go along with four rebounds and two steals.

Despite McCoughtry's heroics, the Lynx outscored the Dream 26-22 in the period. Rebekkah Brunson has 18 points and nine rebounds for the Lynx who now have a 33-21 edge in rebounding. Seimone Augustus has 16 points and five assists for Minnesota. 

For Atlanta, Lindsey Harding has 18 points and five assists and has played well in her match up with Linday Whalen. Iziane Castro Marques went scoreless for Atlanta in the third and has 10 points in the game. 

For more on the WNBA Finals, the Atlanta Dream and the Minnesota Lynx then be sure and check out SB Nation's Women's Hoops blog Swish Appeal.

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WNBA Finals Score: Lindsey Harding Scores 16, Atlanta Leads 39-36 At Halftime

Lindsey Harding scored 16 points and handed out three assists and the Atlanta Dream take a 39-36 lead into halftime against the Minnesota Lynx in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals. Atlanta once led by 12 points but saw Minnesota make a late rally to close the gap to three. 

Iziane Castro Marques started her third consecutive playoff game for the Dream and has 10 points but is just 5 for 14 from the floor. Angel McCoughtry has six points and two steals but picked up her third foul late in the half which could prove to be costly as this game goes on. 

Seimone Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson led Minnesota with nine points each. Brunson picked up two fouls in the first quarter but avoided further foul trouble in the second. Atlanta native Maya Moore has six points but is just 1 for 6 from the field in her first WNBA Finals appearance. 

Minnesota has a 21-16 rebounding advantage in the first half. Atlanta shot 42 percent from the field and was able to get out into transition running off of both turnovers and missed shots. 

The second half is shaping up to be a good one with Atlanta needing Angel McCoughtry to avoid further foul trouble if they are to pull off a Game 1 upset on the road in Minnesota. 

For more on the WNBA Finals, the Atlanta Dream and the Minnesota Lynx then be sure and check out SB Nation's Women's Hoops blog Swish Appeal.

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WNBA Finals 2011, Dream Vs. Lynx Game 1 Score: Lindsey Harding Pushes Atlanta To 18-14 Lead After One

Lindsey Harding's seven points and two assists helped stake the Atlanta Dream to a 18-14 lead at the end of the first quarter in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals. Rebekkah Brunson led the way for the Lynx with six points but spent the later part of the quarter on the bench with two fouls.

Atlanta shot just 38 percent in the quarter but forced four Minnesota turnovers. The Lynx have a slight 10-9 edge in rebounding that the Dream will certainly live with while utilizing the small lineup. 

Minnesota's Taj McWilliams-Franklin started the game but left after playing three minutes and headed back to the locker room with some kind of intestinal problem. She returned to the bench midway through the first quarter but did not re-enter the game during the first quarter. 

For more on the WNBA Finals, the Atlanta Dream and the Minnesota Lynx then be sure and check out SB Nation's Women's Hoops blog Swish Appeal

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WNBA Finals 2011: Atlanta To Open Series On The Road Without Erika de Souza

The Atlanta Dream's shift to a smaller lineup due to the absence of Erika de Souza seemed to unleash the full potential of the Atlanta offense. The Dream scored two emphatic victories over the Indiana Fever and find themselves in the WNBA Finals for the second consecutive season. The biggest question heading into Game 1 of the Finals is whether or not the small Dream lineup can be as successful against Minnesota as it was against Indiana?

To be successful, Atlanta has to tip the lineup mismatches in their favor and it will be interesting to see how the Lynx decides to match up. Maya Moore will likely draw the difficult match up of trying to slow down Angel McCoughtry. Seimone Agugustus will probably start out on Armintie Price as Minnesota will probably try and protect her from being worn down by chasing after McCoughtry the entire game. If Rebekkah Brunson is matched on Sancho Lyttle then that leaves Taj McWilliams-Franklin on Iziane Castro Marques which could be a difficult match up defensively for the Lynx. 

Against Indiana, the Fever were not able to punish Atlanta's small lineup in the post but Minnesota will present a much different challenge in that regard. With the smaller lineup on the floor, the Dream may not out rebound the Lynx but like against Indiana, they need only to be close to even. 

The small lineup was so effective against Indiana, Marynell Meadors was likely to tinker with it in the Finals anyway. Now with de Souza likely out for Game 1, she has the luxury of seeing what the small lineup can do in a full game setting if she desires. 

You don't finish the season with a 27-7 record without being an excellent home team and Minnesota only lost in the Target Center three times this season. Atlanta can expect a big and raucous crowd for tonight's game as well as the Lynx has developed a nice following with their splendid season. 

Atlanta does have the benefit of playing on the WNBA's biggest stage last season when they were swept by the Seattle Storm. The Dream hope to draw from that experience and hope that their opponents are left a little shocked by the pressure of the moment. 

"I believe the difference from last year to this year is the fact that we were like, ‘Oh my god, we’re here!"’ Dream star Angel McCoughtry said. "This year is not ‘Oh my god, we’re here.’ It’s ‘we’re here. Let’s go. We’re meant to be here."’

Atlanta's trip to the Finals has taken many a twist and turn along the way, however, they have met each and every challenge along the way. Both teams are among the most talented squads in the WNBA and the even match ups figure to provide fans of the WNBA with quite a show of entertaining basketball and what may turn out to be an extremely close series. 

For more on the WNBA Finals, the Atlanta Dream and the Minnesota Lynx, be sure to check out SB Nation's Women's Hoops blog Swish Appeal

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WNBA Finals 2011: Erika de Souza Leads Brazil To Olympic Berth

Atlanta Dream center Erika de Souza left the team after Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals to try and help Brazil capture a spot in the 2012 London Olympics at the FIBA Americas Championship for Women. Brazil completed their goal on Saturday destroying Argentina 74-33 in the finals and successfully earned that Olympics spot. 

De Souza isn't expected to join her Atlanta teammates for Game 1, but is expected to be ready to take the floor in Game 2 on Wednesday. 

Brazil went 6-0 in the tournament while de Souza led the team in scoring (16.2 ppg) and rebounding (8 rpg) during the tournament. She finished with 13 points and 16 rebounds during the championship game against Argentina. 

One thing that Marynell Meadors and the Atlanta coaching staff may want to keep an eye on in regards to de Souza is fatigue. Brazil's schedule in the FIBA Americas tournament encompassed six games between Sept 24 and Oct 1 which combined with some pretty intense travel arrangements could have de Souza rather exhausted by the time she returns to the team. 

For more on the Atlanta Dream and the WNBA Finals, be sure and check out Swish Appeal

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WNBA Finals 2011: Atlanta Native Maya Moore Returns Home With Quite A Basketball Legacy

Atlanta native Maya Moore, the WNBA's Rookie of the Year for 2011, played a big part in pushing the Minnesota Lynx to the WNBA's best record in 2011. While there were many contributors to the Lynx's success this season, many can look to Moore who has made a habit of winning no matter what team she was suiting up for. 

Atlanta Journal Constitution sports writer Michael Cunningham chronicles Moore's travels from high school, to the University of Connecticut and now with the Lynx who had never won more than 18 games in a season before Moore arrived In 2011, the Lynx were a league best 27-7. 

While at Collins Hill high school, Moore's team's were a combined 125-3 including three consecutive Georgia High School State Championships. From there Moore moved to the University of Connecticut and was part of a team that posted a 150-4 overall record, won two NCAA championships, made four Final Fours and won an NCAA record 90 consecutive games. 

Winning just doesn't come natural to Moore, it is a part of her. If you include her AAU career and the Lynx's record this season, Moore is a combined 375-20 since she began high school. 

Now she will return home to play at Philips Arena in Game 3 and maybe Game 4 of the WNBA Finals only she is on the opposite side this time around. No doubt that there will be many Maya Moore fans among those that gather at Philips Arena for Game 3. 

"I'm looking forward to having my friends and family being able to see me in person," Moore said. "But as far as thinking about that, I'm going to go out and compete, and once the horn goes off, it's all basketball."

For more on the WNBA Finals, the Minnesota Lynx and the Atlanta Dream be sure and check out SB Nation's Women's Hoops blog Swish Appeal

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WNBA Finals 2011, Dream Vs. Lynx: Erika De Souza Expected To Return For Game 2

The Atlanta Dream will be without starting center Erika De Souza for Game 1 of the WNBA Finals as she wraps up her stint with the Brazilian National Team. The final game of the FIBA Americas Tournament for Women is scheduled for Saturday in Columbia. After the game, de Souza will be forced to take a three-hour bus trip to Bogota so that she can catch a flight to Minneapolis. She is expected to be ready to take the floor for the Dream in Game 2 on Wednesday. 

"She is going to be exhausted but she will be ready to go," Meadors said. "She is so happy to re-join this team."

With De Souza out for Game 1, Atlanta will likely continue with the small ball starting lineup that they were successful with against Indiana. Coach Meadors inserted Iziane Castro Marques into the starting lineup and she responded by scoring 53 points over the course of the next two games. 

It is expected that de Souza will return to the starting lineup for Game 2 but coach Meadors now has the luxury of seeing whether or not the smaller lineup can be effective in Game 1. De Souza is one of Atlanta's best rebounders and interior defenders and her size may be critical in trying to slow down Minnesota's Rebekkah Brunson. 

For more on the WNBA Finals, the Atlanta Dream and the Minnesota Lynx, be sure and check out SB Nation's Women's Hoops blog Swish Appeal

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WNBA Finals 2011, Dream Vs. Lynx: ESPN Experts Tab Minnesota As Favorite To Win Championship

Since its 3-9 start to the season, the Atlanta Dream have had to work extra hard to earn back that early season respect from many of the media personalities around the league. In ESPN.com's preview of the 2011 WNBA Finals, all four women's basketball writers picked the Minnesota Lynx to ultimately win the series

Michelle Smith, Pat Borzi and Meri-Jo Borzilleri all predict that the Lynx will take the series in four games. Home court advantage and Minnesota's dominance for the entire season were deciding factors for each. Mechelle Voepel at least acknowledges Atlanta's upset victories in the playoffs over the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference. Voepel still picks the Lynx to win the series but predicts that the series will go the distance and need the full five games. 

Seriously, kudos to Atlanta for beating Connecticut and Indiana, despite the Sun and the Fever having home-court advantage in both those series. The Dream will be facing that again versus Minnesota, and I do think that will be a factor this time. (Although I thought it would be against Connecticut and Indy, too.)

Minnesota may in fact be the most talented team in the WNBA, but the Atlanta Dream have passed every test thrown their way down the stretch and in the playoffs. They responded to Erika De Souza's departure by ripping the Indiana Fever by a combined 33 points in the final two games of that series. Over the last two seasons, Atlanta has never had home court advantage in the playoffs and despite being swept in the Finals by Seattle last season, all of those games came down to the final possessions. Atlanta is more than comfortable in the underdog role. 

For more on the WNBA Finals series between the Atlanta Dream and the Minnesota Lynx, be sure and check out SB Nation's Women's Hoops blog Swish Appeal

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WNBA Finals 2011, Dream Vs. Lynx: Atlanta Taking Second Shot At Title

Angel McCoughtry leads the Atlanta Dream into the WNBA Finals for the second consecutive season as they will take on Maya Moore and the Minnesota Lynx. Game 1 is scheduled for Sunday Oct 2 at 8:30 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN.

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