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.