ATLANTA — The Atlanta Dream know they have work to do if the two-time defending Eastern Conference champions want to make another WNBA postseason run.
One game away from a two-week Olympic break by the league to allow players to participate in the London Games and the Dream are still struggling to win consecutive games. Head coach Marynell Meadors said injuries are partly to blame for early season losses. However, poor team chemistry and defensive breakdowns have also played a role in four disappointing losses at home.
"The coaches were trying to learn what the new players could do and we were trying to blend everybody and only had about three weeks to do that," Meadors said. "But we have no excuses for losing those four games at home; we should have one some of those for sure."
Meadors said Atlanta put forth a strong team effort and played solid defense in Sunday's win against New York. It's an indication that Dream still has what it takes to secure another playoff berth and possibly reach the finals again.
"I just thought we played really good defense, we took those scores and kept them off rhythm," Meadors said of Sunday's victory over the Liberty.
Atlanta (5-7) will have a chance to enter the Olympic break on a high note with a win Tuesday when it hosts Indiana (7-4). League-leading scorer Angel McCoughtry, averaging 22,7 points per game, said it's going to be a good test for the Dream.
"We've learned from those (losses). We know what we did wrong," she said. "We say 'hey let's not make those mistakes again, let's move on and let's get better' and we have gotten better."
Meadors and McCoughtry are also preparing as part of the U.S. Olympic team, but the two said while they have been busy, their current focus is on getting wins for Atlanta.
However, both say there is an obvious hole in the Dream's offense and on defense without center Erika de Souza, who will also be at the London Games — playing for the Brazil team. Meadors said her absence has probably had the biggest impact on team chemistry.
Atlanta currently holds the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but is two games under .500. Even though there is a possibility the Dream could get into the playoffs with a losing record, they do not want to take that chance.
Heading into the Olympic break with a two-game winning streak would be a step in the right direction for the Dream.