The Scout on the Atlanta Dream vs. Indiana Fever


Sep 2, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Dream guard Ketia Swanier (8) goes up for a shot while Connecticut Sun guard Renee Montgomery (21) defends during the first quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Dream take on defending WNBA champion Indiana Fever in Indianapolis tonight at 7 p.m.  While the Dream routed the Tulsa Shock in their home opener a week ago, their performance against the Fever will be a great test to see if they will be championship contenders this season.

Keys to the game:
The Fever will receive their championship rings and see their WNBA championship banner raised in a ceremony prior to tipoff.  This will obviously be an emotional and motivational moment for both Indiana’s players and fans, but the Dream needs to stay focused on playing their pressure defense in order to end the Fever’s night of celebration.

The Dream defense needs to zero in on guards Tamika Catchings and Shavonte Zellous and not give either of them any open looks at the basket. Catchings and Zellous each netted 19 points to lead the Fever to a win over
the San Antonio Silver Stars.  Angel McCoughtry and Tiffany Hayes will have to ensure that every shot that Catchings and Zellous take is a forced one.

The Dream also needs to capitalize on the injuries that are already plaguing Indiana. Center Jessica Davenport and guards Erin Phillips and Jeanette Pohlen are out until at least August, leaving the Fever with only nine players on their roster.  The Dream needs to apply pressure defense to generate turnovers and spark fast break opportunities in order to fatigue the Fever.

Finally, Dream point guard Jasmine Thomas needs to minimize her turnovers and get the ball inside to the hot-handed Sancho Lyttle and outside to sharpshooter Hayes so that the Dream’s half-court offense flows.  If Atlanta pushes the tempo and keeps the ball out of Catching’s and Zellous’s hands,  they should control the game and capitalize on Indiana’s shallow bench.