Atlanta Dream have WNBA season to remember

ATLANTA (AP) — Nicki Collen still has vivid memories of facing the Atlanta Dream late last season.

She’s blunt in her assessment.

“Quite frankly, they laid down against us,” said Collen, who watched that game as a Connecticut Sun assistant coach.

What a difference a year makes.

Collen is now coaching the Dream, who have put their dismal 2017 campaign firmly in their rear-view mirror. Atlanta (19-10) is one of the league’s hottest teams, winning 11 of its last 12 games and clinching a playoff berth with a victory Tuesday night over the Las Vegas Aces.

“We’ve put ourselves in good position,” center Elizabeth Williams said. “We’ve earned this spot.”

A year ago, Atlanta stumbled to a nine-game losing streak and finished 12-22 — its worst mark since going 4-30 as an expansion team in 2008. Toward the end of that long skid, the Dream were blown out on their home court by Connecticut, 96-75.

Collen saw a team in turmoil, but she also recognized the potential for a major turnaround. When the Dream fired Michael Cooper and offered her a head coaching job for the first time in her career, Collen jumped at the chance.