Dream come off long trip to take on Sky (Jun 22, 2017)

After a difficult five-game, 11-day road trip, the Atlanta Dream return home to take on the struggling Chicago Sky on Friday at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta.

The Dream (5-5) were near the top of the Eastern Conference when they embarked on their trip. They dropped four of five on the road, though, and now sit in eighth place in the league standings.

The Sky (2-9) traded away superstar Elena Delle Donne in the offseason and have not been able to find any consistency through the first two months of the season.

One of Chicago’s two wins, however, did come at Atlanta, where the teams split back-to-back games in the first week of the season. Each team won on the other’s home court.

Chicago’s Stefanie Dolson has averaged 15.5 points and shot 68 percent from the field in the two games against Atlanta this season, including a career-high 23 points in Chicago’s 75-71 road win on May 21.

Like the Sky, the Dream also saw their best player depart in the offseason. Longtime Atlanta star Angel McCoughtry announced this winter that she would sit out an unspecified portion of the season.

Tiffany Hayes has stepped up in McCoughtry’s absence and is leading the Dream in scoring, averaging 17.6 points per game. Hayes had 23 points in Atlanta’s 91-82 win at Chicago on May 19.

“This young lady’s an All-Star,” Dream coach Michael Cooper said in reference to Hayes, who is eighth in the WNBA in scoring and one of four Atlanta players averaging in double figures.

Veteran Layshia Clarendon is averaging 10.4 points and is third in the league in assists, averaging 6.2 per game.

The Sky are coming off a disappointing 91-79 home loss to the Indiana Fever on Sunday. Chicago led by 10 at halftime but fell apart in the second half. The Sky committed 18 turnovers in the loss and only forced four Indiana turnovers.

Sky first-year coach Amber Stocks believes that despite her team’s record they are in position and have laid the groundwork to get the season turned around at any moment.

“I think there’s a special moment where the process stays the same, but the fruit of the hard work that these guys are doing every day shows,” Stocks said after the Indiana loss. “The seeds are planted. The tree is growing. It’s just a matter of time before the fruit is visibly manifested.”