7:00 PM ET, August 27, 2011
The Atlanta Dream created some breathing room in the Eastern Conference playoff race with a key win their last time out.Atlanta's path to the postseason, however, could prove treacherous with three of its remaining seven games coming against the East-leading Indiana Fever.Two of those come in a vital home-and-home series that begins Saturday night when the Dream visit Conseco Fieldhouse.Angel McCoughtry put Atlanta (14-13) up for good on a pair of free throws with 2.5 seconds remaining Tuesday as the Dream defeated Chicago 83-80. The victory created further separation between themselves and the fifth-place Sky for the final playoff spot in the conference."This game was definitely huge. But we know that every single one is important," coach Marynell Meadors said. "The opportunity is there we just need to secure our position."Atlanta could find itself in the postseason for a third consecutive year if McCoughtry, who ranks among the league leaders with an average of 20.5 points, continues to excel. The All-Star forward scored 22 on Tuesday and will be looking for a season-best fifth consecutive 20-point effort."Everybody says all of the attention is on me but it's really about teammates. They get me open and get rebounds," McCoughtry said. "I need to lead my team and keep my composure. I'm an emotional player but I want to show all of my toughness and help build my team up through adversity. That's what I really want to do."McCoughtry's teammates stepped up during an 84-74 win over Indiana (19-8) on July 19. Lindsey Harding scored 19 and Erika de Souza had 15 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks to pick up McCoughtry, who was held to 15 points and shot 5 of 14.The Dream, however, will likely need McCoughtry at her best Saturday, as the home team has won the last nine games in this series. Indiana is 12-2 at Conseco and has won five straight there by an average of 21.0 points.Tamika Catchings scored 13 points and Katie Douglas snapped out of her recent funk with 15 as the Fever defeated Washington 83-51 on Sunday. Douglas had averaged 6.0 points over her previous three games -- 6.8 less than her season mark."You're just going to have up and down moments and thankfully I was able to get on track tonight," said Douglas, who also struggled against Atlanta last month, scoring four points and going 1 of 8 from the field."I was just happy we were able to have such a big win and I think we were doing some great things on the defensive end and on the offensive end. When we start playing well on both ends of the floor, we're a hard team to beat."Indiana, holding opponents to a conference-best 71.3 points per game, is battling Minnesota for the top overall seed in the playoffs.The Fever and Dream conclude their home-and-home set Tuesday night at Philips Arena. The teams close out the season Sept. 11 with a matchup at Indiana.