If there's some solace for the struggling Atlanta Dream, it might come from last season's meandering journey to a second straight WNBA finals.
The Dream's attempt to overcome their slow start this year, however, is taking place with starter Erika de Souza out of the lineup.With de Souza preparing for the Olympics, Atlanta will seek to avoid dropping three straight in the regular season for the first time in a year Friday night against the visiting San Antonio Silver Stars.The Dream (2-4) shot a season-low 37.8 percent and missed 14 of 19 attempts in the fourth quarter of Tuesday's 79-74 loss to New York.Angel McCoughtry had a team-best 21 points and a career-high 14 rebounds for Atlanta, which allowed a tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation before falling 94-92 in overtime to Chicago on Saturday.A not-so-ideal start is nothing new for Atlanta. The Dream dropped nine of their first 12 in 2011 but followed by winning 21 of 27 -- including the first two rounds of the postseason -- before getting swept in three games by Minnesota in the finals."We understand that last year we didn't start too well, but we're losing games ... that we can win," guard Lindsey Harding told the league's official website. "So that is hope and that is positive that we're just a few possessions off."The Dream will have to get on track with de Souza likely out until after the Olympic break in mid-August. The post player, who averaged 11.8 points and a team-best 7.5 rebounds in 2011, is currently with the Brazilian national team."It's tough," McCoughtry said. "She definitely clogged up the paint for us. She makes it so much easier for me personally because they can't double so much or help so much, but we'll have her back sooner than later."The Dream's next opponent is also trying to overcome a slow start, but the Silver Stars (2-3) nearly pulled off a stunning rally over unbeaten Minnesota on Sunday. San Antonio trailed by 26 points in the third quarter but got within two in the final seconds before time ran out."It's amazing what you start to do if you start doing things hard and together," coach Dan Hughes said.Danielle Adams, who had a team-best 21 points off the bench Sunday, scored a career-high 32 during an 86-74 home win over Atlanta on June 11. That loss dropped the Dream to 0-3 in 2011 and marks their previous three-game skid during the regular season.Adams also scored 19 points in Atlanta on June 26, and Jia Perkins had a game-high 25 in a 92-86 victory.Before last year, the Dream had swept the previous two season series from the Silver Stars.