You often hear athletes saying that it’s a whole new season heading into the playoffs. Or that everyone starts over at 0-0. While true, there’s still the basic problem that the best predictor of the future is often the past. Sometimes you don’t have to look very far to find a reason to say “we really should’ve seen this coming”.
The Atlanta Dream went into Indiana last night for Game 1 of their playoff series with history on their side. The Fever had the better regular season in 2012, but Atlanta have reached the WNBA Finals in both the last two years from low seeds and without home-court advantage. They’d shown the ability to step up when the games really matter, including when they beat Indiana in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals.
On the bright side for Indiana, their starting backcourt of Briann January and Shavonte Zellous were both passed fit to play, after missing the final games of the season due to concussion symptoms. They took their places in the regular Fever starting lineup, while Atlanta also had their standard group. This is the playoffs – any minor injuries players are carrying are pushed to the wayside due to the importance of the games.
It was all Atlanta for the vast majority of the first half. Indiana had too many unnecessary turnovers, either with dumb passes in transition or entry passes that Sancho Lyttle quickly stepped in front of to poke away. The Fever needed to be more aware of Lyttle, who’s been pulling that move for years. You can’t make the same passes when she’s the defender involved that you might force against other players. She already had 4 steals after barely 11 minutes of play.
While the turnovers would typically ignite Atlanta’s running game and take over the contest via fastbreaks, the Dream weren’t just dominating in transition. They were the more effective team in half court sets during the first half, repeatedly finding Erika de Souza under the hoop in the early minutes, and then finishing plays more consistently as the game progressed. Point guard Lindsey Harding was aggressive offensively and hitting her shots, Angel McCoughtry joined in after taking a little while to heat up, and Atlanta were in control. Continue reading