THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO HAPPENS AS THE DREAM MELTDOWN UNDER PRESSURE. BLOW 20 POINT LEAD.
This was it. Game 3. Win or go home. Last week the girls were upset at home in Game 1, only to go to Chicago and dominate Game 2. The players knew, the staff knew, the entire arena knew, “this is it.” A win tonight would see them through to the Eastern Conference Finals. A loss, would not only end their season, but would end their season in heartbreak.
The 1st Quarter brought high-energy and fast pace. The Sky did not want to fall behind early as they were on the road. They nailed a few early jumpers but couldn’t keep up the pace with the Dream. Before long Sancho Lyttle had 10 points and while Angel McCoughtry and Erika De Souza each had 5. The Dream went 9 for 11 from the free-throw line in the 1st Quarter which helped keep their lead (the score was 30-17).
Dream defense held tight keeping stars Elena Delle Donne and Courtney Vandersloot to a combined 3 points. Everything was flowing fine through the 2nd Quarter until about the 4’ minute mark. A hard foul on McCoughtry by Tamera Young led to tension between the two. McCoughtry approached Young and continued to point and yell leading to a technical foul. McCoughtry has admitted previously that she takes a beating throughout the playoffs and never gets calls (this game was no different). The 1st Half ended Dream 54, Sky 41. Angel McCoughtry led the Dream with 12 points while Elena Delle Donne had 15.
Once the 2nd Half began the Dream immediately picked up where they left off, extending their lead to 19 points (60-41). Sylvia Fowles led the Sky with 7 rebounds and 8 points. Sancho Lyttle continued her domination inside with a team high 14 points and 9 rebounds.
The Dream were leading in points in the paint (28), second chance points (18), and fast break points (16). It was a dominant performance by Angel and company. It wasn’t until the 4th Quarter when the Sky narrowed the lead down to 12 points and put all of their starters back in.
The Sky worked hard cutting the lead down and making all of their free throws, especially Elena Delle Donne who went 10 for 10 from the line. She ran downcourt and nailed a 3 pointer to tie the game at 74. Everyone was lost at how the Dream could drop a lead like they had but. Thankfully, that soon changed and Angel McCoughtry scored on back to back possessions to take the lead up 78-74.
Going into the final seconds you can look back and see the missed free throws coming back to haunt them. As Jasmine Thomas stepped to the line to shoot 2, she missed both of them. On their last 4 free throw attempts the Dream missed all 4, which would’ve gave them a 5 point lead. With 17 seconds left Delle Donne made a jumper to take the lead, for the first time in the game. With the Sky up 81-80 with 8.2 seconds left, the Dream had time for 1 play. McCoughtry took a shot in traffic that took 2 unlucky bounces and rolled out the rim, to end the Dream’s playoff run.
So the Sky won the series and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. The final score was Atlanta Dream 80, Chicago Sky 81.