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Preview: Dream look to make it seven straight when they face Lynx

No WNBA team is hotter than the Atlanta Dream, who entered the 2023 All-Star break on a six-game winning streak. They’ll look to keep rolling on Tuesday against the Minnesota Lynx.

Atlanta Dream v Minnesota Lynx
The Atlanta Dream came back from a 16-point deficit to defeat the Minnesota Lynx back in May.
Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Dream (11-8) and Minnesota Lynx (9-11) will open the second half of the 2023 WNBA season on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET. It’s the second meeting of the season between the two teams and will be broadcast on NBA TV and streamed live on WNBA League Pass.

While the All-Star break was undoubtedly welcomed by most of the league’s players and coaches as some much-needed time off, it would be understandable if the Dream wanted to get right back to work. Atlanta had won six-straight games entering the break, which is the longest current winning streak in the WNBA, and was looking more and more like the team that many expected to take a leap forward this year after barely missing the playoffs in 2022.

Atlanta had a trio of players named to the All-Star game — guards Allisha Gray and Rhyne Howard and forward Cheyenne Parker — so the team’s recent success probably isn’t a coincidence. Howard, in particular, has been on fire recently, averaging 20.4 points and knocking down 3.2 threes per game in her last 10, including a 43-point outburst on July 2 that ranks among the most points scored by a player in a game this season.

Atlanta Dream v Minnesota Lynx
Dream guard Allisha Gray recorded a 26-point, 10-rebound double-double in Atlanta’s last game against Minnesota.
Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

While the Lynx gave the Dream all they could handle back on May 23 — Minnesota led by as many as 19 points before Atlanta came back and won 83-77 — their lineup has changed quite a bit since then. Forward Jessica Shepard (illness) and guard Aerial Powers (ankle) have both missed significant time with long-term issues, while guard Tiffany Mitchell is expected to make her return to the Lynx lineup after missing nearly a month with a wrist injury.

That hasn’t stopped Napheesa Collier from playing at an elite level, though. The fifth-year forward is playing the best basketball of her career for the Lynx, averaging 21.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Collier is flanked by rookie guard Diamond Miller (12.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game), who the Lynx picked at No. 2 overall in the 2023 WNBA Draft; as the franchise’s building blocks, expect Collier and Miller to be featured heavily both on Tuesday and for the rest of the season, especially considering the lack of continuity elsewhere on Minnesota’s roster.

Later in the day, the Phoenix Mercury (4-15) will host the Connecticut Sun (15-5) at 10 p.m. ET. It’s been, needless to say, a disappointing season for Phoenix in Brittney Griner’s return to the WNBA; the Mercury currently rank 11th in the league standings and are in realistic danger of missing the playoffs if they don’t get going soon. Expect a sense of urgency from the Mercury in their first game against Connecticut this season.

Game information

Minnesota Lynx (9-11) vs. Atlanta Dream (11-8)

When: 7 p.m. ET

Where: Gateway Center Arena College Park in Atlanta, GA

How to watch: WNBA League Pass, NBA TV, Bally Sports Southeast, Bally Sports North Extra

Lynx injury report: Nikolina Milić (probable; shoulder), Aerial Powers (out; ankle), Rachel Banham (out; thumb), Jessica Shepard (out; illness), Natalie Achonwa (not with team; maternity leave)

Dream injury report: Aari McDonald (out; shoulder)

Connecticut Sun (15-5) vs. Phoenix Mercury (4-15)

When: 10 p.m. ET

Where: Footprint Center in Phoenix, AZ

How to watch: CBS Sports Network, AZ Family Sports Network 44, Mercury Live (Livestream), NBC Sports Boston

Sun injury report: Brionna Jones (out; Achilles)

Mercury injury report: Skylar Diggins Smith (not with team; maternity leave)