Mystics Moving Up
By Frank Della Femina,

Here's where each team stands in our Power Rankings as we enter the final weeks of the 2010 regular season:


TEAM (last week) W / L NOTES
Seattle (1)
23-4 It's funny to think a two-game losing streak was the longest of Seattle's season, but Thursday's game against the Sun was an inch away from extending it to three straight. Any way you look at it, the Storm still remains the best team in the league. They proved that roughly two weeks ago when they wrapped up the West with close to a month of games left on the schedule. This minor setback in Seattle's quest for a championship shouldn't be of any major concern for Storm fans.
Next Three Games: 8/7 vs. Tulsa, 8/10 at Atlanta, 8/13 at Connecticut
Atlanta (3)
18-10 Four straight losses after the Stars at the Sun break dropped the Dream out of first place in the East, but a recent streak of four straight has turned that around and placed them back in first. Tuesday's loss to the Mystics wasn't enough to knock Atlanta off from the No. 1 spot, but a loss to Indy Friday night could be.
Next Three Games: 8/6 at Indiana, 8/10 vs. Seattle, 8/13 vs. New York
Washington (5)
16-10 For good or bad, the Mystics have been a team riding streaks all season long. A few wins here, and they run up the standings in the East. A few losses there, and a they're demoted a few notches. Presently, the Mystics are in the "few wins" streak and surely this isn't a bad thing. Five of Washington's last eight games are against teams in the conference, so now would not be the time to fall into the "few losses" rut.
Next Three Games: 8/6 at New York, 8/8 at Connecticut, 8/10 vs. Connecticut
Indiana (2)
16-10 Indiana recently managed to string together a solid streak of five-straight wins but currently finds itself in a rut of three-straight losses, all of which came against conference opponents. Friday's game against the Dream is a good opportunity for the Fever to re-take first place and reverse the downward trend before it catches up with them.
Next Three Games: 8/6 vs. Atlanta, 8/8 at Phoenix, 8/10 at Los Angeles
New York (6)
15-11 New York is surging at the right time. Over the next three games, the Liberty has a chance to do some real damage in the East as they continue their climb to the top of the standings. It also helps that four of New York's last five games of the season will be at home. Nothing like a little home-court advantage to fire a team up for a playoff run.
Next Three Games: 8/6 vs. Washington, 8/8 at Minnesota, 8/13 at Atlanta
Phoenix (8)
13-13 Prior to July 1 the Mercury had won only five games. Since then, Phoenix has posted an 8-3 record and vaulted itself into the No. 2 seed in the West. This is the Mercury team that had general managers predicting Phoenix as 2010 champs back before the season even started.
Next Three Games: 8/6 vs. San Antonio, 8/8 vs. Indiana, 8/10 at Chicago
San Antonio (9)
10-16 Seeds 3 through 5 in the West remain close as ever. A win today or loss tomorrow could make all the difference of a team extending its season. Currently, San Antonio is still part of the playoff bubble in the West. However, the next three games against conference foes will put a better perspective on the Silver Stars' postseason expectations.
Next Three Games: 8/6 at Phoenix, 8/8 at Los Angeles, 8/10 vs. Minnesota
Minnesota (11)
9-16 Minnesota played Seattle tough on July 17 but fell just short by the final of 73-71. Sunday's rematch was another nail-biter, but one that ultimately worked in Minnesota's favor as they snapped the Storm's 13-game win streak. For a team that's had to find ways of dealing with injuries all season long, developing team chemistry was the one thing that stood as an obvious obstacle. Now, chemistry, motivation and a surge of success could very well power them into the playoffs.
Next Three Games: 8/7 at Chicago, 8/8 vs. New York, 8/10 at San Antonio
Connecticut (4)
16-10 Connecticut's playoff hopes are dwindling game by game. Things were looking good right after the break when the Sun burst into the second half with two straight wins. Since then, Connecticut has lost six of its last seven and fallen to fifth place in the East. The Sun currently sits 2.5 games behind the Liberty, so an East-heavy schedule for the remainder of the season means the team has to pull itself together fast.
Next Three Games: 8/8 vs. Washington, 8/10 at Washington, 8/13 vs. Seattle
Los Angeles (10)
9-17 Tina Thompson has said time and time again that her personal accomplishments remain secondary to team success. So even though she heads into the weekend with all eyes on her as she will look to match and surpass Lisa Leslie's record for career points, the big picture remains Los Angeles' late-season playoff push. The Sparks' three wins over the last four games indicates that pieces are starting to fall in place. Sitting only a half game back from entering the playoff bubble, the Sparks will need to close out strong if they want to claim a spot in the postseason.
Next Three Games: 8/6 vs. Tulsa, 8/8 vs. San Antonio, 8/10 vs. Indiana
Chicago (7)
12-16 Things are not looking too good in Chi-town. Over the last five games, the Sky has posted a 1-4 record and dropped to last in the Eastern Conference. What's more, they remain six games out of first place with only six remaining. New York currently holds a four-game lead over the Sky, so winning out the remaining games is likely the only way Chicago still has a chance at cracking the postseason.
Next Three Games: 8/7 vs. Minnesota, 8/10 vs. Phoenix, 8/14 vs. Atlanta
Tulsa (12)
5-22 The league's worst beating the league's best was the top storyline to come out of Tuesday's action. As big a victory as that may be, unfortunately for Tulsa that one win over Seattle didn't qualify them for the postseason. Five games out of fourth with seven games remaining on the schedule doesn't rule Tulsa completely out just yet, but depending on this week's win/loss scenarios in the West we could see Tulsa eliminated entirely by the next Team Rankings installment.
Next Three Games: 8/6 at Los Angeles, 8/7 at Seattle, 8/13 at San Antonio