A Nightmare Start for Atlanta

With the first full week of games in the books, the Atlanta Dream are 1-2. Some may feel the urge to adjust their predictions for Atlanta after the rough start. However, it’s not time to be worried just yet.

Atlanta has certainly struggled so far in 2019. In three games this season, the Dream rank in the top 5 in only two of the top statistical categories – blocks per game and three pointers made.

After having a week off between their first and second game, Atlanta would seem to be the well-rested team. That wasn’t quite the case. In both games last week, they started slow – in their 82-66 loss at home to Seattle and again in their 96-75 loss to Washington on the road.

In the game against Seattle, 11 first half fouls (including some of which could be questionable) contributed to the Dream getting blown out. “We just have to play through it. We can’t control the refs,” said Monique Billings.

Coach Nicki Collen has stressed that this will be a defensive team. Leading the league in blocks at 6.7 per game shows that emphasis. “I think our identity is defense because we have good athletes. You know? Good defensive players,” said Collen. “I inherited good defensive players that needed a system, and we certainly added players through free agency and the draft that I think can continue to make us good that way.”

The defense has good, but what about the offense? After all, it’s commonly understood that the team with the most points at the end of the game wins. “We want to be good offensively too, though. I promise you that,” Collen added. “It takes time to get a rhythm.” Good thing there’s still a ton of time. With 31 games left to play, there’s some wiggle room for experiments.

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The Dream are shooting 39.1% from the field so far. They also are underwhelming at the line and from deep, shooting 66.7% and 25.9% respectively. Opponents have out rebounded the Dream by an average of over 6 boards per game.

Brittany Sykes has been a bright spot and is currently the team’s only double-digit scorer at 10.3 ppg. While the rest of the offense has faltered, one would think that it’s only a matter of time before Tiffany Hayes, Jessica Breland, and Renee Montgomery are able to find their shot.

The Dream face a tall task this week. First, they have a home game against Las Vegas and their towering frontcourt of Liz Cambage and Aja Wilson. Then, Connecticut comes to town with their All-Star Center, Jonquel Jones. With the Dream dedicating so much attention and focus on their defense, it may be fine time to showcase their offense and turn around the start of their season.

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