Playoff Preview: Atlanta Dream To Face Dallas In First Round


Series Begins Friday In Dallas  

By: Jameelah Johnson

The postseason is upon us and the stage has been set for the first round. The fifth seed Atlanta Dream return to the WNBA playoffs for the first time since 2018. They will go up against the fourth seed Dallas Wings in Dallas for the first two games starting Friday, September 15 at 9:30pm ET on ESPN2. The two teams head to Gateway Center Arena to compete next Friday, September 22, for game three (if needed).

The Dream, led by their three All-Stars Allisha Gray, Rhyne Howard, and Cheyenne Parker, finished the season with a 19-21 record. Gray averaged 17.1 points per game on 46.5% shooting along with 3.1 assists per game for the 2023 season, the highest of her seven-year career.

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Howard also saw an increase this season, the second year of her professional career. She averaged 17.5 points per game while shooting 38.5% from the field, 3.5 assists per game, and 4.95 rebounds per game. 

Parker averaged the most points per game in her nine-year career with 15 in addition to her highest rebounds per game average (6.7) and blocks per game average (1.5). 

The Dream went 0-3 against the Wings during the regular season, with the smallest deficit at seven points. Howard averaged 18 points in the series, leading Atlanta. In two of the three games, Dallas’ Arike Ogunbowale led all scorers averaging 29.5 points, she scored 21 in the other. 

The playoffs are all about adjustments and stepping up a level. In the season finale against the Wings, the Dream kept the game close early, but the Wings forced them to deviate from what worked for them, which was mainly keeping the tempo of the game more at their speed.

“When you have people with that size, how you move on the offensive end really helps. So, if you’re slow then it allows them to kind of sit in the gaps and take up a lot of space as well,” the Dream’s head coach Tanisha Wright said of Dallas’ length following the Sunday loss. “And so, if we walk through our offense because you have to combat it someway, right? We don’t have the size that they have. But we have speed. And so, if we use our athleticism, we use our speed on the offensive end, you know, hopefully, that can wear on them.” 

Look for Atlanta to set their pace early once this playoff series begins. If they focus on their strengths and remain consistent, they can put up a real battle with the Wings. 

Other WNBA Playoffs Matchups: Connecticut Sun (3) vs Minnesota Lynx (6), Las Vegas Aces (1) vs Chicago Sky (8), New York Liberty (2) vs Washington Mystics (7).