Tonight's game between the Connecticut Sun and Atlanta Dream is the fourth and final meeting between the two teams and second in less than two weeks. The Dream hold a 2-1 edge in the season series, making this a key game for the Sun who are chasing Atlanta in the standings and can't afford to not have as many as tiebreakers as possible for playoff positioning.
To Sun coach Mike Thibalt, this already is a playoff game.
"These are like playoff games," he said of the Sun's final 11 games. "The two teams know each other. It’s a little bit a test of wills, a little bit of who executes better, a little bit of who plays smarter. It’s all those things. You gotta win some of those areas. I told our players before the Washington game, it’s who can play at the high level the longest in the game. A test of wills.
"These are all playoff games, in our conference," he re-emphasized. "Can you stay out of foul trouble? Can you not turn it over in crucial situations. That’s going to determine most games."
Here's some tidbits on the teams' previous meetings thus far:
Friday, May 21: Atlanta, 97, Sun 82
Highlights: These are lowlights from the Sun's perspective. Playing without Asjha Jones and Sandrine Gruda in their second game of the season -- and first on the road -- the Sun allowed Atlanta to run wild in transition, namely Angel McCoughtry (32 points) and Iziane Castro Marques (18 points).
Thibault earned a technical in this one, and the Sun scored just nine points in the second quarter, the beginning of the end in the rout.
Wednesday, July 7: Atlanta, 108-103 (OT)
Highlights: In the Sun's final game before the All-Star break, Atlanta handed them their third straight loss again behind McCoughtry and Castro Marques (32 points apiece).
Despite the loss, the Sun took a step forward out of their midseason slump, shutting down Atlanta's transition game late but not having enough for a red-hot McCoughtry in overtime in Atlanta.
Saturday, July 17: Sun 96, Atlanta 80
Highlights: The Sun held Castro Marques scoreless and though McCoughtry got her points (27), she needed 26 shots to do it at Mohegan Sun Arena. Tina Charles did her usual thing (22 points, 14 rebounds) and Kara Lawson netted 18 points.
Sancho Lyttle was playing her second game since coming back from a concussion and poured in 12 points and 11 rebounds for Atlanta.