McCoughtry Powers Atlanta's WNBA Finals Dream Into Reality
A lineup adjustment here, a few days off there and the Dream suddenly find themselves in the Finals, with a 105-93 win over the New York Liberty in Atlanta Tuesday to complete a sweep of the best-of-three Eastern Conference championship series.
Second year forward Angel McCoughtry had a career high and WNBA playoff record 42 points in the Dream's win, as Atlanta broke a 73-all tie after three quarters with a 32-point fourth period.
"You can't do it without your teammates," said McCoughtry, the 2009 WNBA Rookie of the Year. "Everybody played their butts off. Now, we've gotta get this ring, this championship ring. It's not over."
McCoughtry, whose 42 points topped the 41 scored by Indiana Fever forward Tamika Whitmore in a 2006 playoff game, outdueled New York guard Cappie Pondexter, who posted a playoff career high 36 points and nine assists to lead the Liberty.
The Dream, in their third year of existence, entered the playoffs as the East's No.4 seed. but swept out top seed Washington and No.2 seed New York in succession. Atlanta coach/general manager Marynell Meadors, who had started a big lineup all season, replaced center Erika de Souza and point guard Shalee Lehning, and moved starting power forward Sancho Lyttle to center, while moving McCoughtry to power forward.
The moves paid off handsomely as the Dream, already the league's second highest scoring offense, found an additional gear in the playoffs, topping 90 points in three of their four postseason contests.
"This team is a special team, simply because they refuse to lose," said Meadors. "They find ways to win. They find ways to hustle. They find ways to play defense."
The Dream will meet the Seattle Storm in Game 1 of the league's best-of-five Finals Sunday in Seattle, the site of Game 2, to be played next Tuesday. The series shifts to Atlanta next Thursday for Game 3.