The Atlanta Dream and host Phoenix Mercury will meet Sunday, returning from the Olympic break while trying to overcome their shortcomings that have rendered both with losing records.
The Dream (6-13) entered the break on a four-game losing streak, while the Mercury (9-10) have a dismal 3-7 record at home.
Atlanta underwent major changes since losing to the last-place Indiana Fever 79-68 at home in its last game before the break on July 11. Darius Taylor has taken on the interim head coaching position after Mike Peterson stepped down because of health reasons.
The Dream also signed seven-time All-Star Candice Dupree, a 16-year veteran who was waived by the Seattle Storm in July. Dupree is fourth in career games played in WNBA history with 484 and has averaged 14.1 points and 6.4 rebounds in her career.
Dupree’s playing time with Seattle diminished with the emergence of Ezi Magbegor. Atlanta will be without Cheyenne Parker for the remainder of the season after she announced her pregnancy.
Taylor coached Dupree at Temple when he served as an assistant under Dawn Staley there.
“I’m excited to be reunited with Candice after coaching her in college at Temple University,” Taylor said. “Candice brings championship experience, professionalism and a great basketball IQ to our team. She will add scoring, depth and stability to our post play.”
Dupree’s veteran presence can help the Dream’s chemistry. Chennedy Carter remains suspended after a reported verbal altercation with teammate Courtney Williams during the team’s July 4 loss at the Las Vegas Aces.
The Mercury welcomed back three U.S. Olympians who brought home gold medals from Tokyo — Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins-Smith.
The time off has helped Sophie Cunningham to recover from concussion-like symptoms that started when she took a blow to the face July 9 against Seattle.
Bria Hartley has also returned to the court, practicing full court for the first time since her ACL surgery last September, but is not expected to be ready to return Sunday.
Some members of the Phoenix Suns have practiced with the Mercury to help them prepare for the final stretch of the regular season.
“We’re definitely getting better at boxing out since they all jump higher than us,” Brianna Turner said. “It’s definitely been tougher so I think when we start playing games again it might make it a little easier.”
–Field Level Media