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WNBA dark horse Atlanta Dream gallop to second seed

The Atlanta Dream have won seven games in a row and will be a dangerous team down the stretch.

WNBA All-Star Game 2014
Angel McCoughtry charges through defenders at the 2014 WNBA All-Star Game.

The preseason predictions were not high on the Atlanta Dream. As of Friday, however, the Dream are at 15/1 odds to win the WNBA Championship, which tied with Dallas for the sixth-best odds. Yet, they are sitting with the second-best record in the league and just beat the Seattle Storm, the current league leaders, in convincing fashion.

The Dream brought in a new head coach, Nicki Collen, an assistant with Connecticut Sun from 2015-2017. In a July 9 interview with WNBA Insidr, Coach Collen discussed wanting the team to be focused on the defensive end and, at the time, she wanted the team to play with more consistency.

The Dream has the best defense in the WNBA. They are first in Opponent FG% at 41.8, second in the league in forcing turnovers at 15.4 per game and third in the league on points allowed, with 78.9 per game.

However, prior to this seven-game winning streak, the Dream were in the middle of the WNBA standings at 8-9. Why? The offense is just okay. In fact, the Dream just went into the positive for Net Rating for the first time in a long time, despite having the best defensive rating in the WNBA. Their Net Rating is now 0.1 due to having the second-worst Offensive Rating in the league.

During this winning streak, the Dream have shot 45% from the field while their season average is 41.1%, which is second-to-last in the league. That said, the Dream generate the second most shots at 69.8, and all of those missed shots generate second-chance scoring opportunities due to averaging 9.9 offensive rebounds per game.

Although the Dream has issues on offense, their defense is extremely tough. Coach Collen has found the right buttons these last two weeks, and with six games left against current playoff teams, the Dream’s success will be tested until the end of the season. That said, the Dream will not be an easy out in the playoffs. Despite not having won more than one playoff game since 2013, the Dream have shown they can play with anyone this year and an appearance in the WNBA Finals could be in their future.