After 408 combined games, 204 regular season matchups and 13 playoff meetings, the cream has risen to the top, leaving only two teams out of a sea of 12 to duke it out and claim one highly coveted WNBA championship.
As one of the youngest franchises in the league, the season marked a number of firsts for the Atlanta Dream, including a 6-0 start to the season (best start in franchise history), an Eastern Conference Semifinals win over the No. 1 seeded Washington Mystics (first time Atlanta advanced past the first round) and an Eastern Conference title (you guessed it – first time since the team’s 2008
inception). Now in a best-of-five series against the Storm, Atlanta will aim to produce another milestone in franchise and league history, as the Dream attempts to become the first No. 4 seed to win a championship. The last four-seed to advance to the Finals was the 2001 Charlotte Sting, losing to Los Angeles 2-0 in a best-of-three.
Behind the arsenal of Iziane Castro Marques, Erika de Souza, Sancho Lyttle and 2009 Rookie of the Year Angel McCoughtry, the Dream remained a perfect 4-0 throughout the postseason, knocking off No. 1 seeded Washington in the first round and advancing past the New York Liberty in the Conference Finals. McCoughtry, whose not only emerging as one of the league’s premiere scorers but also Atlanta’s youngest leader, set a WNBA record in Game Two against the Liberty, as she scored 42 points on 12-of-20 shooting, including 17-of-21 from the free throw line. The previous record of 41 was set in 2006 by Tamika Whitmore, formerly of the Indiana Fever.
On the other side of the court there’s the Seattle Storm, a team that hardly needs any introduction. After posting a league-best and franchise-best 28-6 regular season record, Seattle plowed through the first two rounds of the playoffs, sweeping the Sparks in the first round, followed by the Phoenix Mercury in the second. Three-time MVP Lauren Jackson has played a huge role in Seattle’s postseason success, but perhaps the most memorable event over the first two rounds of play came in Game Two of the Western Conference Finals. With less than three seconds remaining on the clock with the score tied at 88, Sue Bird broke free and drained a three-pointer to put the Storm ahead 91-88 with one more Mercury attempt pending. When Diana Taurasi’s three-pointer banked off the rim and out as the buzzer sounded, the Storm advanced to the Finals for the first time since 2004, the same year Seattle claimed its first and only WNBA title. Finish Reading….