The Dream have won their last 10 of 11 and made a statement on the road against the defending champion Minnesota Lynx. After their 86-66 victory, the Dream will come home to Atlanta to play their last three home games against the Las Vegas Aces, Los Angeles Sparks, and Dallas Wings.
The big away victory is their second straight after their eight-game run was upended by the Washington Mystics. Tonight’s win also gives the Dream the series advantage 2-1 in case a tiebreaker was to happen. The top eight teams make the playoffs and the Dream are in prime position for a bye into the semifinals.
“When you’re younger you have so many goals and a lot of them are individual. Now I want to be sure that we make the playoffs,” Renee Montgomery said. “I want to get one of those bye spots.
I was pleased to see center Imani Mcgee-Stafford get some extended minutes. I have a feeling support players like her are going to come in the clutch once the playoffs begin. She had only four points but nabbed a team-high eight rebounds along with Angel McCoughtry and made a key block before the end of the first quarter.
The star of the show once again was league all-star Tiffany Hayes who scored a team-high 28 points and went 6 of 11 from 3-pt land. Another impressive stat was another night with 100% free throw shooting. Little things like free throws and copious rebounds will make a huge difference once the playoffs begin.
Recent signing Alex Bentley was right behind McCoughtry with 19 points, one steal, and an assist. Brittney Sykes proved to be a reliable bench player once again with eight points but a very important six assists in the Dream’s win tonight.
As you can see from the current league table, Seattle and Atlanta are sitting at the top while the middle of the lot is separated by a mere two wins (the difference between third place and seventh). The playoff structure goes as follows:
Effective with the 2016 season, the WNBA implemented changes to playoff seeding and qualification procedures as well as the postseason format. Under the new postseason structure, the eight teams with the highest winning percentages regardless of conference qualify for the playoffs and are seeded based on their record.
Additional features of the reconfigured playoff structure are as follows:
- The number of playoff rounds increased from three to four. The top two seeds receive a bye to the semifinals (third round), and the third and fourth seeds receive a bye to the second round.
- Teams will be re-seeded after each postseason round.
- The first and second rounds are single elimination. In the first round, the No. 5 seed hosts the No. 8 seed and the No. 6 seed hosts the No. 7 seed. In the second round, the No. 3 seed hosts the lowest-seeded first-round winner and the No. 4 seed hosts the other first-round winner.
- The semifinals feature a best-of-five format, with the No. 1 overall seed playing the lowest remaining seed and the No. 2 overall seed meeting the remaining team. The Nos. 1 and 2 seeds will host Games 1, 2 and 5, and the lower-seeded teams will host Games 3 and 4 in their respective series. The WNBA Finals remain best-of-five and follow the same 2-2-1 format.
So as you can see, it would be extremely beneficial for the Dream to finish in second place as they would get extended rest and start their playoff journey in the semifinals.
“I think they enjoy playing with each other and I wanted that to be a staple of mine coming into this season,” said Coach Nicki Collen post-game. “But when we don’t show up and follow a game plan, you know, Washington came in and beat us. But we’ve been 10 and 1 since then but we go one game at a time. We know anybody can beat us but we can beat anybody.”
Photo: Hakim Wright