ATLANTA, GEORGIA- Even before the tip-off at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta, Georgia on Sunday afternoon, “Let’s Go Dream!” already echoed through the arena.
Fans sported their red, white, and blue, not just for the Fourth of July, but also to show their support for their Atlanta Dream. Music blared over the sound system as fans took to their feet dancing, clapping, and getting hyped for an exciting game.
Their energy was contagious, and the ladies of the Atlanta Dream definitely caught the bug. With speed, agility, and an offense that could not be stopped, the Dream’s game was hotter than “Hot-lanta’s” scorching heat.
Quick on their feet and even sharper with their shooting, Atlanta dominated the entire first half of the game. The star of the entire first half was Brittney Sykes, whose name seemed to be called over the intercom, every minute with another shot made. She ended the half with 12 points as the only Dream player to score double digits.
Yet, Sykes did not work alone. Sancho Lyttle,- whose name is nothing short of a misnomer in itself, as she towers at 6’4”- took full advantage of her height. At any given moment, she was ready and waiting underneath the basket to clinch those rebounds. She, along with Sykes, were the main contributors to Atlanta’s 21 total rebounds in the first half- 5 offensive and a 16 defensive.
The Dream not only sunk basket after basket, but they kept the ball out of the hands of their opponents and caused New York to only shoot 34.2% from the field. The Dream ran to the locker room at the half to the cheering of their die-hard fans, confident in their 47-31 lead.
Yet, a team known for making remarkable comebacks in the past, the Liberty would not let the Dream run away with the win that easily. However, even with the always impressive effort of Tina Charles, who scored a total of 21 points- ten points more than the next highest New York scorer, Atlanta could simply not be stopped even into the second half.
Most impressively was how the Dream managed to keep the ball moving, which was what Head Coach Michael Cooper called the “offensive game plan.” By sticking to the game plan, the Dream ended the game with 17 assists, led by Layshia Clarendon with 9 individually. More so, 5 of their players scored in double digits, as compared to the Liberty’s three.
“That’s when we know we’re playing good basketball,” said Cooper. “It’s helps you a lot. It means you’re moving the basketball, everyone is involved, and it’s fun to play that way.”
As much as teamwork did, literally, make the Dream work in their game against New York, the continued hustle of Sykes- from the first half until the last second- could not be overlooked. She led Atlanta in rebounds and points, with 9 and 19 respectively, by “staying aggressive, staying positive, and staying patient.”
Even Sykes noted the incredible teamwork of the Dream in reference to her own personal success: “I have to give credit to my teammates. They’ve stayed in my ear these past couple of practices- to do what I do best. That’s to get out of transition, to get those points for my team, to give them energy on defense, and it was working for us tonight.”
Even though the sky seemed to be the limit for Sykes in Sunday’s matchup, it was the always-impressive teamwork of the Dream that led them to their victory after a two game losing streak. With the in sync offense, swift ball handling, and speedy play they showed against New York, Atlanta may prove to be the “Dream” team of the WNBA this season.