Commentary

Stars collide as Dream meet Sun

Originally Published: September 12, 2011
By Michelle Smith | espnW

Angel McCoughtryScott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty ImagesAngel McCoughtry averaged 29.8 ppg in four regular-season games against the Sun.

CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
Western Conference: Minnesota-San Antonio | Seattle-Phoenix
Eastern Conference: Indiana-New York | Connecticut-Atlanta

(2) Connecticut vs. (3) Atlanta

The Sun nailed down the No. 2 seed on the final day of the regular season by defeating New York but have a huge task in taking on third-seeded Atlanta. The Dream are playing like they are the best team in the East. The teams split their regular-season series, but Atlanta comes in to the postseason with seven wins in its last eight games.

Atlanta is led by electrifying forward Angel McCoughtry, who put up 32 in the season finale over Indiana and has at least 20 points in nine of her last 11 games.

Connecticut, which comes into the postseason with three wins in four games, has its own star in Tina Charles, who has collected a WNBA-record 23 double-doubles in 34 games. But Charles is going to need more offensive help from the likes of Asjha Jones and even guard Kara Lawson off the bench to counter the points that Atlanta can put on the scoreboard.

Two of the top players in the league will make for one of the most intriguing postseason matchups.

Rebecca Lobo: What to watch

In this series, no lead will be safe, and that will make for exciting basketball. The Dream and the Sun are two of the youngest teams in the league, and it's the reason both have squandered big leads this season. On Aug. 19, the Sun were up by 14 on Atlanta before losing in overtime; two days later, the Dream had a 14-point lead before losing to the Sun by nine. Don't turn this matchup off before the final buzzer.

Who wins?

Michelle Smith: Dream in 3. The Dream are just too hot and McCoughtry too tough over the last month to be denied a return trip to the Eastern Conference finals.

Mechelle Voepel: Sun in 3. Teams have been not been able to do much to stop Atlanta's McCoughtry all season. But to win this series, the Sun's defense doesn't really have to stop her. Just slowing her down should help. Connecticut missed the playoffs the past two seasons, and the Sun are a young team. But the experience the ex-UConn players on the Sun have as crunch-time performers should mean something in this matchup. So should the fact that, as a team, the Sun might be more likely to execute offensively better than the Dream.

Pat Borzi: Dream in 3. The teams split the four-game season series, each winning twice at home. Connecticut has been awful on the road all season, so clinching the No. 2 seed was big. But unless the Sun find a defensive answer for McCoughtry, who averaged 29.8 points against them on almost 46 percent shooting, home court in Game 3 won't matter.

Meri-Jo Borzilleri: Dream in 3. This series features two big names with big stats in a marquee matchup: Atlanta's McCoughtry (21.6 ppg) and Connecticut's Charles. To pull off this upset, third-seeded Atlanta will have to win twice at Connecticut, where the Dream lost both times this season.

Michelle Smith

Contributor, espnW.com

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