The Atlanta Dream will begin defense of their 2010 Eastern Conference Champion crown tonight when they open their best of three series against the Connecticut Sun. Atlanta and Connecticut split four games in the regular season with the home team winning each. The Sun tied with the Seattle Storm for the best home mark in the WNBA with a 15-2 record. Conversely, Atlanta finished the season with the best road mark in the Eastern Conference at 9-8 and is arguably the hottest team in the East coming into the playoffs.
Atlanta wants to play fast and hopes to lure Connecticut into a running game where it can best utilize the talents of Angel McCoughtry, Lindsey Harding, and Armintie Price. Scoring points hasn't been a problem for the Dream this season but how they deal with the Sun's Tina Charles inside will also be key. The Dream will throw a number of big bodies at Charles inside with Erika De Souza likely drawing the assignment the most.
After struggling early on, this Atlanta team has regained the spark that they had last season during their run to the WNBA Finals. Angel McCoughtry led that spirited turnaround putting up MVP type numbers in the process. However, the Sun could be the most difficult match up for Atlanta in the East and winning at Mohegan Sun Arena is not going to be an easy task.
The result is you can expect one of the most entertaining and competitive series in the WNBA playoffs. In a short playoff series format, there is extra pressure on both teams for Game 1. Early on Atlanta couldn't catch a break. Lately they have found ways to sneak out victories even when they haven't played their best. Another factor will be Atlanta's playoff experience. How the Sun handle the spotlight at home could go a long way in deciding who wins this series.
For more on the Atlanta Dream, Connecticut Sun, and the WNBA Playoffs be sure and check out Swish Appeal.