The Atlanta Dream open a four-game road trip on Tuesday against the host Seattle Storm, who are looking to wrap up an eight-game homestand with an above-.500 record.
Seattle (5-5) dropped its second straight on Sunday to fall to 4-3 on the season-long home stretch, which began with a 69-64 loss May 14 to the Phoenix Mercury.
The Storm rallied from the defeat to the Mercury to win four in a row but have since dropped consecutive decisions of 68-51 on Friday to the Dallas Wings, and 93-86 to the Connecticut Sun on Sunday.
Despite recording its third-highest point total of the season against the Sun, the Storm was outscored 32-19 in the fourth quarter. Connecticut shot 55.2 percent from the floor to outpace the Storm’s 48.6 percent, a marked turnaround from the season-low 51 points scored in the loss to the Wings.
“The offensive execution that we lacked the last game, we improved,” Seattle coach Noelle Quinn said. “We scored 86, but defensively (were) not as locked in and in tune. Hopefully, we can put a game together offensively and defensively.”
Seattle enters with an average of 77.7 points per game. Only two teams in the WNBA are scoring less on average and one is Atlanta at 75.5 points per game.
The Dream (7-4) have offset their lack of consistent offensive production with the league’s stingiest scoring defense. Opponents are averaging just 73.2 points per game, 3.7 points less per game than Seattle, which is fourth best.
Atlanta comes into Seattle a winner in three of its last four with performances of 54 points allowed to Phoenix on May 29 and 66 points given up to the Indiana Fever on Sunday.
Sunday’s output might have been even lower if not for Atlanta coughing up 24 turnovers that Indiana converted into 27 points.
“If you’re striving to be one of the best teams in this league, you just can’t do that,” Dream coach Tanisha Wright said in her postgame press conference. “We’re last in this league in turnovers…At some point, we’ve got to make a change.”
Former MVP Breanna Stewart fuels Seattle’s defense with a league-leading 2.9 steals per game. Stewart is also leading the WNBA in scoring at 20.4 points per game.
Atlanta’s Rhyne Howard is scoring 16.2 points per game, including one of the league’s top 3-point shooting rates at 2.6 made a contest. Aari McDonald, Erica Wheeler and Howard lead an aggressive Dream perimeter defense, each registering at least 1.5 steals per game.
Atlanta also is holding teams to a 29.8 percent shooting from 3-point range.
–Field Level Media