With league MVP Tamika Catchings hobbled by a foot injury, Indiana had no chance against Atlanta on Tuesday in the third game of their best-of-three Eastern Conference finals series.
The Dream was ahead by 14 points going into the fourth quarter and won easily 83-67 on the Fever's home court. Even with a healthy Catchings, Atlanta still might have won. The Dream finished 6-1 this season against Indiana.
After the game ended, Heather Cox of ESPN2 tried to interview forward Angel McCoughtry. McCoughtry had her own ideas. "I always wanted to meet President Obama," McCoughtry blurted out. "I know we had a lot of adversity, but adversity builds character."
Say what? President Obama had the 2010 WNBA champions, the Seattle Storm, over to the White House on June 29. And the 2011 champs undoubtedly will get an invite, but Ms. McCoughtry, your team has not won the WNBA title yet? You have to beat the Lynx three times to get that trophy. Are you that confident?
Atlanta did have some adversity, especially early when the Dream started 3-9. Two of those losses were to the Lynx. McCoughtry was having knee problems, Sancho Lyttle missed both Lynx games because she was playing in Europe.
The Dream will be a tough matchup for the Lynx because in some ways the two teams mirror each other. Both can put up lots of points; Atlanta was second in the league in points per game behind Phoenix, the Lynx were third. Both averaged more than 80 points.
The Lynx were first in rebounding, the Dream second.
Both thrive in transition. Atlanta had 15 steals against Indiana. The Fever had 18 turnovers altogether.
Cox said a Lynx scout told her the Lynx will have to stop the Dream's transition game to win.
Said ESPN2 broadcaster Terry Gannon, "This was an impressive effort by Atlanta on the road to close [the series] out." ... There was about eight minutes left when Gannon said that but it was a blowout by then. The Fever had never lost an elimination game at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Atlanta has won four consecutive Eastern Conference playoff series in a row in 2010 and 2011 as the underdog. Last year the Dream beat New York in the conference finals before being swept 3-0 by the Storm in the league finals.
McCoughtry will be one difficult player for the Lynx to guard. She is aggressive and gets to the line more than any other WNBA player. She had 26 points Tuesday but should have had 30 or more. McCoughtry was 11 for 19 at the foul line. She was better from the field (seven for 10).
Asked how the Dream can beat the Lynx, McCoughtry said, "Play hard, play tough, play good defense. Do the things Atlanta has been doing, play Atlanta basketball."
One Indiana analyst called the Dream's style playground basketball, adding quickly she meant that in a good way.
The MVP of this series for Atlanta -- if someone was naming one -- was not McCoughtry, though. It was Izi Castro Marques. She had 30 points on Sunday when the Dream won 94-77 at Phillips Arena and 23 on Tuesday as a spot starter.
Castro Marques was averaging 7.6 points with a high of 19 going into this series, but Atlanta had a huge hole to fill when 6-5 center Erika de Souza left the team to play for her native Brazil in the FIBA Americas tournament in Columbia, a qualifer for the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
Castro Marques could have gone with De Souza but opted to stay.