Five Games to Watch in the 2nd Half

After bringing home the gold for the fifth straight time for Team USA, the WNBA's superstars return home to tip off the second half of the season on Aug. 16.

The Minnesota Lynx dominated the headlines going into this season as the defending champs and the ones to beat come playoff time. Now, a handful of teams have stepped up to make the race to the top one of the most exciting ones to watch in years.

Connecticut, Los Angeles and San Antonio start the second half of the season with winning streaks of five games or more. Meanwhile, the Seattle Storm and Phoenix Mercury will welcome back their clutch players Lauren Jackson and Diana Taurasi, who were out the first half of the season due to Olympic play and injury rehab, respectively. Both the Storm and Mercury started off the season with sluggish starts, but the return of their stars are bound to turn things around and likely to shake up the race to the top spot even more.

Here are five games worth sinking your teeth into once WNBA action returns Aug. 16. Don't miss a second of any of it with WNBA LiveAccess

8/16 - Phoenix Mercury vs. Seattle Storm (10:00 p.m. EST)
The Mercury and Storm are former championship teams that have had a tough first half, mostly in part to the loss of their strongest players. Diana Taurasi has missed all but two games of the season to nurse a hip injury but is healthy now as demonstrated by her clutch performances for Team USA during the Olympics. Meanwhile the Storm, who took a tumbling this season out the gate with a four-game losing streak, welcome back three-time MVP Lauren Jackson who was gone for the first half of the season for Olympics practice with the Australian national team. With both teams at full strength in, expect the sparks to fly.

8/23 - San Antonio Silver Stars vs. Los Angeles Sparks (10:30 p.m. EST)
Both teams have had drastic rebounds over the past few months and head into the second half of the season among the top teams in the Western Conference. The Sparks' Candace Parker and the Silver Stars' Becky Hammon may be the superstars facing off in this matchup, but make no mistake about it, both teams this season have deep benches that are forces to be reckoned with. This matchup could potentially be one of the most even and closest match ups between two top teams in the league this season.

8/25 - Minnesota Lynx vs. Atlanta Dream (7:00 p.m. EST)
Let the 2011 WNBA Finals rematch commence! The Atlanta Dream have a score to settle with the Lynx after getting swept by them last year in the finals. The Dream's Angel McCoughtry is tearing it up this season averaging almost 23 points a game. Other teams have had trouble shutting down her scoring frenzies all season but the Lynx may be the team best suited for the job.

9/4 - Los Angeles Sparks vs. Minnesota Lynx (8:00 p.m. EST, NBA TV)
The defending champion Minnesota Lynx have been billed as the team to beat this season and nobody is more anxious to dethrone them than the Los Angeles Sparks. Candace Parker is arguably playing some of the best basketball of her career and has the clutch help of Nneka Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver. But to write off the triple-threat force of Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen, who have each improved on their already ferocious performances last year, on the Lynx would be absolutely foolish. Fresh off representing Team USA in the Olympics, the Lynx's three superstars are a force to be reckoned with.

9/19 - Indiana Fever vs. Connecticut Sun (7 p.m.)
The fight for the top ranking in the Eastern Conference will take place between the Fever and the Sun. The Sun boast one of the best records in the league but the Fever rank as one of the top defensive teams, led in part by reigning MVP Tamika Catchings. That being said, it will be tough for even Charles to shut down the Sun's Tina Charles, but nonetheless expect this game to be a close one.



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