Angel McCoughtry and Iziane Castro Marques combined to score 49 of Atlanta's 83 points as they defeated the Indiana Fever by a score of 83-67 to advance to the WNBA Finals for the second consecutive season.
Once again Atlanta was able to crank up the defensive pressure with their small lineup forcing the Fever into some tough shots and into some costly turnovers. Indiana was able to stay within striking distance in the first half, Atlanta used a strong third quarter to take control of the game and build a lead that they would never relinquish.
The Dream jumped out to a 28-23 lead after one as it looked like a repeat performance of the opening period from Game 2. Things turned defensive in the second as both teams combined to score just 23 points in the second quarter alone. Atlanta took a 39-35 advantage into halftime. There was an interesting series of events between Angel McCoughtry and Atlanta head coach Marynell Meadors that occurred right before the end of the half. After McCoughtry picked up her second foul, Meadors sent a sub into the game only to see a visibly upset McCoughtry refuse to leave the floor. Finally Coco Miller and Iziane Castro Marques ushered McCoughtry to the bench where she passed Meadors without any verbal contact with her coach.
If the Dream were frustrated, they returned to the court in the second half and took it out on the home standing Fever. Atlanta outscored Indiana 22-12 in the period and pushed their lead to 15 and the Fever never threatened again.
McCoughtry finished with a game-high 26 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Iziane Castro Marques started her second game in a row and finished with 23 points including 5 of 7 shooting from the three point line. Lindsey Harding tossed in 16 points and six assists for the Dream. Sancho Lyttle logged a double double with 10 points, 11 rebounds, five steals, and two blocks.
Katie Douglas led the way for Indiana with 16 points and nine rebounds. Tammy Sutton-Brown finished with 11 points and nine rebounds for the Fever. Tamika Catchings came off the bench for the Fever while playing with a torn plantar fascia in her right foot that she sustained in Game 2. Catchings ended up playing 24 minutes and finished with six points and five rebounds.
Shevonte Zellous got the start in place of Catchings as Lin Dunn tried to match Atlanta's small lineup. Marynell Meadors was able to mix things up enough sometimes going big with a lineup that consisted of Lyttle and reserve center Allison Bales while other times opting for the smaller lineup that had Lyttle or Bales at center and Angel McCoughtry at the power forward position. The Dream forced the Fever into 18 more turnovers in Game 3 and shot and uncharacteristically 8 of 12 from the three point line.
The Dream advance to the WNBA Finals for the second consecutive season where they will take on Atlanta native and WNBA Rookie of the Year Maya Moore and the Minnesota Lynx. The Finals, a best-of-five, will begin on Sunday in Minnesota.
For more on the Atlanta Dream and the WNBA Playoffs be sure and check out SB Nation's women's hoops blog Swish Appeal.