Dream return home to take on winless Fever

The Atlanta Dream return home after a promising road trip out west to host the struggling Indiana Fever in a Thursday matinee at McCamish Pavilion.

The Fever (0-9) are the only winless team in the WNBA and have lost 17 in a row dating to last season.

Atlanta (5-4) won two of three on its road trip and has won three of four overall, including victories over the first-place Connecticut Sun and Seattle Storm, another team near the top of the WNBA standings. Seattle had lost only once and was averaging more than 84 points per game but managed only 64 against Atlanta’s stingy defense.

The Dream dropped their final game of the trip in Los Angeles but arrive home with renewed confidence.

“I think we have to feel good about the fact that we came on the road and won two of three,” Dream coach Nicki Collen told reporters after Tuesday’s loss at Los Angeles. “I think that is a huge road swing for us. I thought we got good minutes from our bench and that’s good going forward. Now we go home and we basically have a home and away (a two-game series vs Indiana).

“I don’t think anybody is hanging their head in there. I think they’re disappointed that we didn’t win but we battled and I think we proved that we can compete with LA.”

The Fever are just 2-27 since July 1 and are coming off a disappointing overtime loss to Las Vegas on Tuesday. Beginning with the Dream, Indiana’s next eight games are against teams that currently have winning records.

“The players are pros and they can sleep tonight,” Fever coach Pokey Chatman told the Indianapolis Star after the loss to the Aces. “But the coaches won’t. We will be specific with them in showing error of our ways and show them why behind the what. We will work, that’s how we will approach this.”

Atlanta got off to an up-and-down start, especially struggling on the offensive end of the floor. But the Dream found a spark with a win over the previously unbeaten Sun on June 5 and showed signs of improvement on the road trip out west.

“We’ve been focused on getting better,” Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry said after the loss to the Sparks. “This is a new team, and a new system. It’s not easy playing three games in five days. It’s really tough on everybody. We played a really good team tonight, and we go back home, and rebound, and get one back at home.

“Nicki’s been great, I’ve enjoyed her, I think she’s done such a great job, and she is going to have some very successful seasons in this league.”

Thursday’s game tips off at 11:30 a.m. in Atlanta. It is the first of back-to-back games between the Dream and the Fever. They’ll face off again on Saturday in Indiana.

The Dream won two of three meetings against the Fever last season.