East Beats West

There's no hiding the Minnesota Lynx's struggles this season. Their nine losses are worst in the league, as is their shooting percentage, which tops out at 39 percent. Things got worse on Tuesday night when their top starter, Candice Wiggins, suffered a ruptured Achilles, ending her season prematurely.

Throughout all these negatives, there are a few positives, starting with a three-game win streak. The third victory of that stretch came against the New York Liberty Thursday. What's significant about this is that Western Conference teams such as the Lynx have not fared well against their Eastern opponents.

In 23 games between the two conferences this season, the East has prevailed in 17 of them compared to the West's six. Aside from the Seattle Storm's three wins, the Los Angeles Sparks, Tulsa Shock and Lynx have just one win each against East opponents. That leaves the reigning champions, the Phoenix Mercury, and the San Antonio Silver Stars, whose five losses are worst among both sides of the standings, as the lone teams who remain winless.

Half of the East’s teams, meanwhile, have been near dominant outside the conference. The Atlanta Dream picked up their fifth win over a West opponent on Wednesday afternoon against the Shock. They’re followed closely behind by the Connecticut Sun's four victories, while the Indiana Fever and Chicago Sky have three apiece. Only the Washington Mystics and Liberty, who have 1-2 records against the West, have sub-.500 records.

The Sun's Mike Thibault is the longest tenured head coach in the East. He attributes this year's success to a number of factors.

"It goes through swings. We've had teams now in our conference who have had high draft picks the last couple of years and have also taken advance of dispersal drafts, which radically improved their teams," said Thibault, who joked about not playing Seattle yet as another reason. "Atlanta comes to mind right away. They added Sancho Lyttle and Angel McCoughtry; Washington has had high draft picks in the last few years; this year we added Tina Charles and DeMya Walker while also doing stuff in free agency. It goes through cycles, and right now the East is on the up-cycle."

There’s clearly no defined secret behind the East’s success. Perhaps this latest trend just shows that the West isn’t so wild after all.

Here's a breakdown of each team's wins and losses outside of their conference:

Team Win Loss
Atlanta 5 1
Connecticut 4 0
Chicago 3 0
Indiana 3 1
Washington 1 2
New York 1 2
Team Win Loss
Seattle 3 2
Tulsa 1 1
Los Angeles 1 2
Minnesota 1 4
Phoenix 0 2
San Antonio 0 5
More »


#LeanInTogether: NBA & WNBA Stars Are In–Are You?

See why LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Skylar Diggins, and Elena Delle Donne are leaning in for equality—and visit LeanInTogether.org to learn more. When men lean in for equality, everyone wins.

Douglas on Hosting All-Star

5-time WNBA All-Star Katie Douglas says it's an honor to host the 2015 All-Star and WNBA Draft at Mohegan Sun.

Elena Delle Donne and Tamika Catchings Support Lauren Hill

Last week, Lauren Hill of Mount St. Joseph University courageously took the floor for her first college game, refusing to let an inoperable brain tumor keep her from achieving her dream – and WNBA stars Elena Delle Donne and Tamika Catchings were on hand to lend their support.

All-Access: NBA All-Star Relay

To promote healthy living, the NBA teamed up with New York Road Runners for the first-ever marathon relay.

Hammon Makes Coaching Debut

Becky Hammon makes history as the first woman to be a full time NBA coach.