After 34 regular season games for each of the 13 WNBA teams, the questions
have been partially answered and the parity has been somewhat resolved. From
the original 13, only eight are left to compete for the shiny trophy. Standings
and records don't matter, and dare we say, even the Power Rankings can be thrown
out the window. The teams will battle it out with each other to be number one
when all is said and done. So let the games begin...
WNBA.com POWER RANKINGS: Playoff Edition
||The final regular season Power Rankings
would not be right if they did not have the best team in the regular season
at the top. Despite struggling out of the gate, the Sparks have been the
most dominant team in the WNBA, finishing with five more wins than the next
best team. Lisa Leslie played like an MVP all year long and the team only
got stronger with the mid-season losses of Olympian DeLisha Milton-Jones
and Coach Michael Cooper. The rest of the teams should be ready for the
Sparks, because the playoffs are when they perform their best.
Next: at Sacramento
Seattle was the league's best team through the first half of the season,
but was unable to hold onto that momentum after the Olympic break, even
having a losing record in September. Yet, they were still better than
any team but the Sparks. If Jackson, Bird and co. can find their early
season mojo, they could also be a force to be reckoned with in the weeks
Next: at Minnesota
||The Sun four of their final five games to
win the Eastern Conference title for the first time. Who would have thought
it was possible for a team that started out the season and spent much of
the season in the bottom half of the Power Rankings. But with All-Stars
in Nykesha Sales, Taj McWillimas-Franklin, Wendy Palmer and Lindsay Whalen,
should we really be surprised? A balanced but starter-heavy team, Connecticut
could continue to surprise well into the playoffs.
Next: at Washington
||Up-and-down-and-up again. After a season of inconsistency,
the Liberty finished on a high note and claimed second place. Veterans Becky
Hammon, Vickie Johnson, Elena Baranova and Crystal Robinson will play a
lot of minutes against the defending champions and need to knock down the
3's to prevent the Shock from getting out and running all over the place.
Next: at Detroit
||Since the Olympics, the Lynx have played
solid team basketball and gotten behind two rookie centers heading into
the playoffs. But after a full season, Nicole Ohlde and Vanessa Hayden are
no longer rookies. With veterans like Teresa Edwards, Helen Darling and
Tamika Williams in the lockerroom, this young team won't lose sight of the
magnitude of the upcoming series. Shutting down Lauren Jackson might be
a greater challenge.
Next: vs. Seattle
||The Mystics continued their meteoric rise through the rankings
last week and completed a feat that would have seemed unthinkable in the
beginning of the season. Riding the elevated play of Alana Beard, Stacey
Dales-Schuman, Chasity Melvin, Nakia Sanford and Tamich Jackson, the Mystics
qualified for the playoffs without superstar Chamique Holdsclaw. The Mystics
won four in a row before falling in the finale in New York.
Next: vs. Connecticut
||A full game and a half out of a playoff
spot at the beginning of last week, the Monarchs won their final three games
in a row to get into the playoffs and come from behind to edge out the Mercury.
Sacramento's frontcourt depth could pose a serious challenge for the Sparks,
who split the season series with the Monarchs.
Next: vs. Los Angeles
||The Shock were the eighth and final team to qualify for the
postseason, defeating the Charlotte Sting at home on the last day of the
season in a win-or-go-home contest. Detroit actually won three in a row
down the stretch without superstar forward Swin Cash. Can they sustain their
momentum against the Liberty. Rebounding and defending the outside shot
will be keys for the Shock's repeat quest.
Next: vs. New York
Luck Next Year