Atlanta, GA — Fresh off a last-second defeat at the hands of the Washington Mystics, the Atlanta Dream entered the first quarter with amazing energy. With their Head Coach Nicki Collen crowned the WNBA Coach of the Year, they looked to even the series at 1-1 in Game 2 of the semifinals.
During the first two periods, the Mystics proved how tough they are to stop. Even with the pace and energy of the Dream, Washington always had an answer offensively. With five minutes left in the first half, the pressure continued from Atlanta as they nailed a big three. With the momentum shot engaging the home team’s players and the crowd, Washington was forced to regroup.
After regrouping, the Mystics took the lead, yet the Dream refused to lay down and kept fighting. Atlanta’s resilient fight was capped off with a tough layup by Tiffany Hayes, however, Washington was leading at intermission, 36-34.
Out of the locker-rooms, the Mystics continued to play smart ball, moving the basketball around the court and setting up shots for Elena Delle Donne. Despite Delle Donne taking over, the Dream continued to play with a ton of heart and getting lots of hustle plays. They were able to chase down long rebounds and create second-chance shots to cut into the Mystics’ lead.
But, then, Washington started to heat up from deep as they hit back-to-back threes to extend its lead. Still, Atlanta refused to quit as Jessica Breland came up with a huge block to swing momentum back to the Dream. By the conclusion of the third, Atlanta’s defense helped erase the gap and tie the game with Washington, 58-58.
As the final period got underway, Delle Donne continued to be an unstoppable force, regaining the lead for her team. With just over three minutes left in the game, Delle Donne was attacking the rim when she seemed to step wrong. As the players raced back up the court the other way, Delle Donne stayed down on the floor clutching her left knee. Teammates had to help her off the court, a devastating blow to the Mystics.
With their star player and leading scoring (27-points) on ice, Washington was fighting to maintain control of the game. The Dream seized the opportunity, taking more shots in the paint and getting more offensive rebounds for second-chance opportunities.
Washington tried, but Atlanta now had control of the game. Alex Bentley hit a free throw to give her team a three-point, 78-75 and Kristi Toliver wasn’t able to convert on the other end for Washington.
Now the series is tied at one game a-piece and will head to Washington. Tip-off is on Friday at 8 pm ET.
“I’m really proud of my team for battling after losing Elena,” Mystics’ head coach Mike Thibault stated after the loss. “We will regroup and get some rest back in Washington.”
“We are closers,” head coach Nicki Collen said on Atlanta’s victory. “Incredible effort tonight, I’m really proud of my team’s toughness. We stay who we are, consumed with what we do and what we do well.”
While the injury didn’t look good live, there’s a possibility Delle Donne will play in Friday’s game.
“I won’t count her out, she looked to be walking fine. As more details come we will adjust but, we are preparing to play against her,” Collen said on Delle Donne playing in Game 3.