By Bailey Johnson
It’s been a long time since the Dream lost five games in a row.
In the 2018 season, where first-year coach Nicki Collen set a franchise record for wins with 23, the Dream never lost more than two games back-to-back in the regular season. The Dream went all the way to the WNBA Semifinals before losing to the Washington Mystics.
This time around, the Dream opened the season with a win and have dropped the ensuing five games. It’s the franchise’s worst start since 2011, when the Dream went 0-3 to begin the season and were 1-5 through six games.
Needless to say, Collen and her team are unhappy with how things have started this year.
“We’re just pissed,” said Alex Bentley after the Dream’s loss to Las Vegas on June 6. “We’re tired of losing. Everybody’s tired of losing, but like coach said, we got a great group. We’re just gonna stay positive, look in the mirror and figure out what each of us individually can do more for our team, to give to our team, to play for each other and start getting on a roll with wins.”
Since then, the Dream have lost two more games. Progress has been evident, but it hasn’t shown itself in what may be the most important statistic — wins and losses. Both the offense and the defense have struggled at varying times, and confidence appears to be an issue contributing to the losing streak.
When the ball doesn’t go in, regardless of how open the shot is, it rattles even the most mentally tough athlete. And in the Dream’s last three games, they’ve shot 35.3%, 32.4% and 33.3% from the field.
“We’re leading the WNBA right now in missed, unguarded shots,” Collen said June 6. “We’re getting good shots. People may think that we have people that aren’t great shooters, but I actually think that we’ve upgraded that and that we can make shots. We’re just not. I think, at times, we’re frustrated by that and letting that affect our ability to just sit down and guard and grab rebounds and do some of the little things.”
Bentley went three-of-five from the beyond the arc at Dallas on June 15 after going one for her previous 11 attempted three-pointers. But Bentley is a member of the Belarus national team and has been temporarily suspended to join Belarus for the EuroBasket tournament, so the Dream’s offensive turnaround can’t hinge on her.
Elizabeth Williams had a breakout game in the loss at Dallas with a season-high 16 points while shooting 60% from the field and going 4-for-4 from the line, and getting her going in the paint could help the Dream put up points if the shots still aren’t falling.
But at some point, the Dream will have to make shots and they will have to win games. With improvement evident in the last few games — the Dream had their first halftime lead of the season June 15 — perhaps the Dream’s luck will turn in Wednesday’s game against the Indiana Fever.
The Fever are 1-3 over their last four games with the lone win coming over the Dallas Wings, who were 0-4 when the two teams met. Indiana is 4-4 on the season and provides a chance for the Dream to get back on track before traveling to Connecticut and facing Washington at home later in the week.
The Sun lead the league at 8-1 and the Mystics beat the Dream at Washington earlier this season. A win over the Fever would help set the course for the Dream to get back in the win column, and snapping this losing skid is of the utmost importance for Collen and her team.