Unlike the easy win over Dallas, the Atlanta Dream got off to a slow start and trailed by nine points after the first quarter against the New York Liberty last night. The Dream pushed to a nine-point lead with three minutes left in the fourth quarter, but the Liberty would fight back to within two points several times. However, free throws late in the game would seal a 92-87 victory for Atlanta.
Along with being a well-played game, there were some key takeaways that stood out:
The Atlanta Dream is a deep team
Three of the four players to score in double digits came off the bench for Atlanta. Recently-acquired Nia Coffey led the team with 18 points and was 2-of-4 on three-point shots after missing all three attempts against Dallas in the preseason opener. If Coffey can provide this type of spark off the bench — or in a starting role — the blow of Angel McCoughtry’s knee injury could be softened significantly.
Tiffany Hayes, who got the start in the Dream’s first preseason game, scored 16 points in just 13 minutes. Hayes has been a consistent starter for the Dream since being drafted in 2012. However, with the addition of Alex Bentley, Atlanta has the flexibility to go with different combinations in the backcourt.
Lynetta Kizer, a player on a training camp contract who has bounced around the league throughout her career, scored 13 points and added four assists in 18 minutes. Some may scoff at the plus/minus stat, but Kizer was +16, which says good things happened while she was on the court. Kizer probably will not make the final roster with Atlanta barring injury to another player. But her time on the court could help her to land a role with another team.
Amanda Zuhui B may get her chance to start
Although Zuhui B was the starter in the season opener, she played just eight minutes in the Liberty’s loss to Connecticut — likely for reasons of rest and getting other players involved. Against the Dream, she led all players with 34 minutes, scored a game-high 20 points and added a game-high eight rebounds. Entering her fifth season in the WNBA, Zuhui B had started just one game in the regular season prior to the 2019 preseason.
Given that she got the start in both of the Liberty’s preseason matchups, Zuhui B seems poised to start next to Tina Charles.
The Liberty has a ton of hidden talent
Two other journeywomen provided impactful contributions last night — this time, for the Liberty, despite it being in a losing effort.
Tiffany Bias, who last played for the Dallas Wings in 2016, is having a good preseason. She scored 11 points against the Sun last night after scoring nine points against Dallas in the preseason opener. Bias went 6-of-9 on three-point shooting and she is shooting 50 percent overall in the preseason. Bias’ career-high is 10 points, so it definitely appears she has improved her game since the last time she played in the WNBA.
Center Avery Warley-Talbert last saw meaningful time in the league with the Liberty in 2015. She saw 17 minutes of action last night, the most playing time she has had so far this preseason. She scored 12 points, registered six rebounds and dished one assist. In the game against Dallas, Warley-Talbert made the most of her four minutes of playing time, going 2-of-2 from the field, gathering two rebounds and recording one steal.
Bias and Warley-Talbert could get roster spots in New York given the overall lack of WNBA experience on the roster. If not, they are making the case that they belong somewhere in the WNBA.
Asia Durr’s struggles continue
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft has had a preseason to forget. So far, Durr has shot 4-of-17 from the field with no made three-pointers. Durr has registered six turnover to just four assists.
Durr was a primetime scorer at Louisville: She once scored 47 points against NC State. So her preseason performance is likely just an early slump for the rookie. With one more preseason game left, Liberty fans would like to see her offense get going though.