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 Eastís 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. Theyíre 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."

Thereís clearly no defined secret behind the Eastís success. Perhaps this latest trend just shows that the West isnít 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 Ľ


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