The Chicago Sky's two-year playoff drought appears likely to end, but down the stretch it's all about bettering their position for the postseason.
Looking to rebound from their latest defeat, the visiting Sky try to hand the lowly Atlanta Dream a 12th straight loss Tuesday night.
After two seasons without a playoff appearance, Chicago (15-11) has turned things around under new coach and general manager James Wade. However, the Sky have dropped two of three to sit fifth in the WNBA standings heading into this week's action.
While the top two teams in the league don't have to play until the semifinals, the third and fourth seeds get a bye into the second round. At the moment, three games separate the teams from fourth to eighth place, so the Sky can't afford many more setbacks.
Diamond DeShields scored 28 points, but the Sky were pushed around - apparently too much by All-Star Liz Cambage - during a 100-85 home loss to Las Vegas on Sunday. Chicago shot 34.2 percent, including 9 of 32 from 3-point range, while allowing the Aces to make half of their shots.
"We'll address the things that we did wrong, because we didn't do everything right," Wade told the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Sky now begin a stretch of three of the next four games on the road. DeShields has totaled 34 points while Chicago won the first two meetings with Atlanta (5-21) this season.
Both losses to Chicago have come during the current 11-game skid for the Dream, who last won on July 12 over Minnesota. It's been a massively disappointing season for Atlanta, which is mired in its longest losing streak since the 4-30 2008 season. That year, Atlanta started 0-17 and also lost 10 in a row at the end of the season.
The Dream led by as many as 12 points Friday at Phoenix but was on the wrong end of an 18-4 run and lost 77-68. Renee Montgomery had 17 points and Elizabeth Williams added 15 with 11 rebounds for the Dream, who were outscored 25-10 in the fourth quarter.
Montgomery averages 8.6 points but is scoring 12.5 per game over her last four. She had a season-high 23 while making six 3-pointers in a 77-76 loss at Chicago on July 17, but finished with six in the 87-75 home defeat to the Sky on Aug. 3.