ATLANTA — The versatility of the Atlanta Dream makes the second-year franchise a tough out in the WNBA playoffs.
Seven players have led the Dream in scoring this year. Atlanta overhauled its roster during the offseason and the team’s depth led to the second best single-season turnaround in league history.
"We don’t care who scores, we don’t have a lot of egos," coach Marynell Meadors said.
"We have balance and we have depth. We don’t mind going to the bench. Everyday in practice, the reserves beat the team in practice."
Atlanta, which won 18 games this year after just four victories in its inaugural season, is going to need everyone on its playoff roster to contribute when the Dream meet defending champion Detroit Shock in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs tonight.
Meadors is a candidate for executive of the year for what she has accomplished in one yeaar as Atlanta’s general manager.
The Dream set a WNBA record with 30 losses in a season and lost their first 17 games last year.
Meadors brought in seven-time All-Star Chamique Holdsclaw, Michelle Snow and Sancho Lyttle through the dispersal draft. She took Louisville star Angel McCoughtry with the top pick in the draft.
Detroit coach Rick Mahorn says McCoughtry is "hands down" the best rookie in the league.
"Angel is showing why she was picked first in the draft," he said. "She’s given her team what they needed when Chamique went down with her injury."
The Dream never lost more than two games in a row this year and are the second-highest scoring team in the league. Atlanta has also beaten each of this year’s playoff teams at least once.
"It gives you an edge," Meadors said. "If you beaten them once, you know you can do it again."
Mahorn and his veteran Shock squad struggled against the Dream this year — losing the regular season series 3-1.
"They are talented and rebound well," Mahorn said. "They’re great one-on-one type players who can make plays for themselves. They’re so deep. They have an array of players who can step up."
Erika DeSouza, Atlanta’s 6-foot-5 center, was an All-Star this season. Iziane Castro Marques, DeSouza’ Brazilian Olympic teammate, is leading the team in scoring with 14.4 points a game.
Holdsclaw has missed 10 games with an injured knee and is listed as day-to-day. She had a light practice with the team on Tuesday in hopes of returning for the Dream’s first playoff game.
"It’s not 100 percent, but it’s getting there," Holdsclaw said. "I’m going to try to give it a go. But if not (tonight), then I’m aiming for Friday’s game."
If she can’t play, Meadors is confident her team can get it done without Holdsclaw. The Dream is 5-5 without Holdsclaw in the lineup and McCoughtry has averaged 16.7 in those 10 games.
"We know what we’re in for," the coach said. "We’re not intimidated and know we have to go to another level. ... This is where we make a name for ourselves."