WNBA

Power Rankings: Penultimate Edition

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Two weeks to go and the race to the playoffs shows no signs of slowing down. Let’s get started.

12. Atlanta Dream (7-20)

Last Week: Lost to Dallas Wings 72-68, Beat Dallas Wings 69-64

This Week: 9/8 vs. Phoenix Mercury, 9/10 at Washington Mystics

For the first time in nearly two months, the Dream were finally able to get a win, knocking off the hapless Dallas Wings. At this point, seeing the Dream take down a season series against anyone is somewhat stunning. In the win against the Wings, four members of the Dream scored in double-figures, led by Tiffany Hayes at 22 points. For a team that shot 40.0 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from distance, there is no reason to complain about any win. Given how little there is left in the season, the Dream may have secured themselves not having the worst record in the league.

11. Indiana Fever (6-21)

Last Week: Beat Los Angeles Sparks 74-72, Lost to Phoenix Mercury 87-65, Lost to Phoenix Mercury 86-81

This Week: 9/10 at Minnesota Lynx, 9/12 at Minnesota Lynx

The Fever somehow looked better this week. They were able to put possibly the final nail in the coffin of the Sparks postseason hopes. The following game saw them bludgeoned by the Mercury in the third quarter en route to a 22-point loss. Then they bounced back and barely lost to the Mercury to finish out the week. The Fever are by no means a good team. They are slowly but surely starting to gain some level of respectability.  For an organization that waived their top pick from last season a couple of months ago before losing this season’s pick for an extended amount of time for personal reasons, baby steps are welcome.

10. Los Angeles Sparks (10-18)

Last Week: Lost to Indiana Fever 74-72, Lost to Minnesota Lynx 6-57

This Week: 9/9 vs. Connecticut Sun, 9/12 vs. Seattle Storm

The Sparks have essentially squandered whatever minimal hope they once had for the final postseason spot. Losing to the Fever after losing a week ago to the Mystics does not make for the strongest push to end the season. Nneka Ogwumike (who combined for 33 points over the two games last week) can only do so much to support the struggling offense of the team. With only four games left, getting through the next four games is going to be a slog. This week, the Sun and Storm are not likely to be pleasant experiences.

9. New York Liberty (11-18)

Last Week: Lost to Minnesota Lynx 74-66, Lost to Seattle Storm 85-75

Next Week: 9/11 at Dallas Wings

At one point during the season, the Liberty felt like a lock to make it into the postseason. They had one of the most enjoyable new collectives in the league and were building positive energy after last season. They beat the Wings just before the break to get to 10-9. Since then, they have lost nine of 10 games and are going to be holding their breath till the end to see if they get in. Facing down the Wings this week, the Liberty are essentially tied with the Mystics for the final playoff spot. With only three games left to go, it is now or never for the season of seafoam.

8. Washington Mystics (10-17)

Last Week: Lost to Connecticut Sun 85-75, Lost to Minnesota Lynx 93-75

Next Week: 9/7 at Seattle Storm, 9/10 vs. Atlanta Dream, 9/12 at Chicago Sky

Speaking of the team that is clinging to their playoff lives, the Mystics dropped both games this week but still have a chance to get things right before the end of the year. They have two extra games remaining to catch the Liberty, though this week two of those come against the Sky and the Storm. Tina Charles was back for their most recent game but Elena Delle Donne is still in and out of the lineup. Health has been the biggest issue for the Mystics throughout the season, but now they can add something else to their list of issues that is out of their control: time.

7. Dallas Wings (12-16)

Last Week: Beat Atlanta Dream 72-68, Lost to Atlanta Dream 69-64

Next Week: 9/7 vs. Connecticut Sun, 9/11 vs. New York Liberty

What more is there to say about the Wings that has not already been discussed? Losing to the Dream (after barely getting past them the first time) should be the type of issue that keeps the Wings from making the postseason. However, all of the teams competing for the same spot in the standings are also struggling. Dallas is essentially treading water at this point. Satou Sabally has yet to return and now Isabelle Harrison is missing time due to COVID-19. For the remaining four games of the regular season, all the Wings can do is hope to survive.

6. Chicago Sky (15-14)

Last Week: Lost to Phoenix Mercury 103-83, Lost to Las Vegas Aces 90-83, Beat Las Vegas Aces 92-84

This Week: 9/12 vs. Washington Mystics

The Sky earned a lot of applause for knocking off the Storm twice a week ago and almost completely erased the goodwill within a week. First came the matchup with the Mercury, the team just ahead of them in the standings. Phoenix won by 20, sending the Sky into back-to-back games against the Aces. It took a solid fourth quarter in the second meeting for the Sky to avoid dropping three games in a row. Candace Parker stuffed the stat sheet (despite shooting 4-13 from the field) and Allie Quigley and Diamond DeShields combined for 39 points. With only one game this week (and three overall), the Sky should be able to find a way to get to the postseason with a modicum of momentum.

5. Phoenix Mercury (18-10)

Last Week: Beat Chicago Sky 103-83, Beat Indiana Fever 87-65, Beat Indiana Fever 86-81

This Week: 9/8 at Atlanta Dream, 9/11 vs. Connecticut Sun

Tied for the hottest team in the league, the Mercury have won nine games in a row. They have not dropped a game since before the Olympic break. They truly look like the team that was promised when Skylar Diggins-Smith came to the team before the bubble season a year ago. Bludgeoning the Sky was a statement moment for the team, hammering home that they are moving into the contender conversation. They are building to a major showdown with the Sun to end the week, pitting the two teams who have not lost in more than a month against each other.

4. Seattle Storm (19-10)

Last Week: Beat New York Liberty 85-75

This Week: 9/7 vs. Washington Mystics, 9/12 at Los Angeles Sparks

Suddenly, the Storm are no longer considered a lock to secure a first-round bye. After their recent struggles, combined with the surge of the Mercury, Seattle finds themselves just half a game ahead of the fifth seed. In only one game this week, Breanna Stewart took care of business (33 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal) and powered them past the Liberty. The two games this week are must-wins given the final game of the season on the not-so-distant horizon: the Storm will close out the season pitting Sue Bird against Diana Taurasi. Let’s just hope the ankle injury that Taurasi recently suffered does not keep her out of the showdown.

3. Minnesota Lynx (18-9)

Last Week: Beat New York Liberty 74-64, Beat Los Angeles Sparks 66-57, Beat Washington Mystics 93-75

This Week: 9/8 at Las Vegas Aces, 9/10 at Indiana Pacers, 9/12 vs. Indiana Fever

Quietly, the Lynx are rolling towards the end of the season. Winners of eight out of their last 10 games, if the Lynx are able to win the remainder of their games, they will finish with a top-two seed. This week, the meeting with the Aces is of the utmost importance and will allow the Lynx to control their own destiny. The Lynx won the previous two meetings against their blossoming rival, giving them the upper hand going into the showdown. After that, the Lynx will not play a team with a winning record until the postseason. Putting Sylvia Fowles in place to receive her flowers is a great end to the season.

2. Las Vegas Aces (20-8)

Last Week: Beat Chicago Sky 90-83, Lost to Chicago Sky 92-84

Next Week: 9/8 vs. Minnesota Lynx, 9/13 vs. Dallas Wings

https://twitter.com/LVAces/status/1434941559913402373

With only two games this week, the Aces faced off twice against the Sky and split the games. Riquna Williams, A’ja Wilson and Kelsey Plum each scored 21 points and the team was able to handle Chicago (even without Liz Cambage, who is currently in health and safety protocols). In the second meeting, it was just too much Allie Quigley and Diamond DeShields. Dearica Hamby was also out of the lineup. Despite the lower level of dominance than expected, the Aces will still be fine once they are able to get healthy. First up, they must get past the Lynx in an attempt to secure the double-bye in the playoffs.

1. Connecticut Sun (21-6)

Last Week: Beat Washington Mystics 85-75

This Week: 9/7 at Dallas Wings, 9/9 at Los Angeles Sparks, 9/11 at Phoenix Mercury

Just another week where the Sun put an opponent in a body bag. Like the Mercury, the Sun have not lost a game since the Commissioner’s Cup and seem to be rolling on their way to the Finals. With five games left in their season, the Sun have a three-game lead over the three-seed Lynx. The margin for error is high and the Sun are more than able to deal with what is in front of them. Even better, there was a change in the injury report this week. Alyssa Thomas has been upgraded to doubtful less than eight months after tearing her Achilles. She remains the Terminator and is (possibly) ready to push for a title.

About Corey Rausch

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