September 15, 2023
Keys to a Dallas Wings playoffs victory
What do the Wings need to do to defeat the Atlanta Dream?
The No. 4 seed Dallas Wings went undefeated against the No. 5 seed Atlanta Dream during the regular season. Now the slate is clean as both teams compete for the WNBA championship beginning with a best-of-three matchup in the first round. Dallas had their first 20 win season — going 22-18 — which allowed the team to clinch the fourth seed and have homecourt advantage.
Latricia Trammell will be coaching her first playoff game as a head coach. After practice Sept. 13, Trammell said she thinks the team has done an amazing job and believes the team has seen it all from the Dream.
“So knowing that with any team during the playoffs it’s a new season — 0-0 record. Hard to beat a team four or five times and so we’ve got to make sure that we enhance what we already know and bring it to another level.”
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Attack inside and out
Taking things up a notch is exactly what the Wings will need to win against a team that matches their pace. Atlanta ended the season leading the league in pace factor at 98.7. They allowed other teams to average 36% per game; while they had the worst three-point percentage at 31.7% during the regular season. The Wing have the size to make it happen. Three-time champion Natasha Howard said Sept. 13 the team’s height is what they has been able to maximize over Atlanta.
“We have big post — big athletic post players and we take full advantage of that. Also, our guards too. We have an inside game and we an outside game with our guards. Our guards have been doing a good job, attacking their guards, shooting threes and getting to the free throw line,” she said.
Points in the paint could be one of the difference makers in this matchup. Dallas was first in the league in field goals attempted, averaging about 73.2 per game. Even still, the Wings ended the season third in scoring. The key to that was rebounding, where the team finished first in offensive rebounding. With two 6’7 centers, Teaira McCowan and Kalani Brown, Dallas should be able to keep Atlanta out of the paint as their presence on the court allows the Wings to spread the floor.
“We’ve got to continue to block out. Everyone knows that we are a great rebounding team and they threw a lot of bodies at the rebound to get extra opportunities, and so that is something that we have stressed,” Trammell said.
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Be judicious with shooting
The pace that Dallas plays has led to forced shots and turnovers throughout the season. Guard Arike Ogunbowale and forward Satou Sabally were named to the WNBA All-Second team and have been two of the most important offensive pieces on this team. Sabally had 14 double-doubles and Ogunbowale was the sixth player in WNBA history to record over 800 points in a single season.
When the scoring is off from these two, the other starters will be able to carry the load. The key is to not jack up shots when the offensive play is broken up, which could have been a factor in the team leading the league in shot attempts. If they can move the ball around and look to take the best shot, they could keep Atlanta on their heels.
Game 1 will take place Sept. 15 (9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2). Sabally said the team is excited for a good basketball game.
“Playoffs are always exciting; there are some nerves but we can know what to expect so I think it is a little different from the previous years…we are just ready to play basketball.”