There are just 27 days remaining in the 2017 WNBA regular season, which means the sprint to the playoffs is in full force. Each game over these final four weeks has added significance as teams push to make it into the top eight spots and battle for the all-important early round byes.
To find the hottest teams in the WNBA heading into this week, all you have to do is look up, as the Sun and Stars are both riding three-game win streaks. They are followed closely by the Sky and Wings, who have each won two straight.
1. Minnesota Lynx
Last Week’s Ranking: 1
2017 Record: 20-3; This Week: 1-1
OffRtg: 108.3 (1); DefRtg: 95.5 (1); NetRtg: 12.8 (1); TS%: 56.3 (3)
The hopes for Minnesota to challenge the 1998 Houston Comets for the best win percentage in WNBA history took a couple hits in the past week. The first came in a win over Atlanta as point guard Lindsay Whalen suffered a broken bone in her left hand that will sideline her indefinitely. The second came three days later with an 84-82 loss to the Indiana Fever. The Lynx will be tested this week with the second of three Finals rematches with Los Angeles (Friday, 8 ET, NBA TV).
2. Los Angeles Sparks
Last Week’s Ranking: 2
2017 Record: 18-7; This Week: 2-1
OffRtg: 107.3 (3); DefRtg: 98.8 (2); NetRtg: 8.5 (2); TS%: 56.8 (2)
L.A. saw its four-game win streak snapped on Sunday with an 85-79 road loss to the Wings in a game that saw the Sparks go ice-cold from beyond the arc (2-15) and get dominated on the glass (47-31 overall, 16-4 offensively). L.A. is off until Friday, when it takes on the Lynx in Minnesota on stop No. 2 of a five-game road trip. The Sparks have been dominant at home (league-best 12-1), but just a .500 team on the road (6-6).
3. Connecticut Sun
Last Week’s Ranking: 3
2017 Record: 15-9; This Week: 1-0
OffRtg: 107.9 (2); DefRtg: 101.7 (7); NetRtg: 6.3 (3); TS%: 54.1 (5)
The Sun had six players score in double figures to help offset a 33-point effort from Diana Taurasi. Connecticut held off Phoenix 93-92 on Friday to extend its win streak to three games. All three of those wins have come at home, which is where the Sun will be once again this week as they host the Storm (Tues. 7 ET, Twitter) and Wings. After a road-heavy schedule early in the season, the Sun are in the middle of a stretch that has them playing nine of 10 games at Mohegan Sun, where they are 8-3 on the season.
4. Washington Mystics
Last Week’s Ranking: 4
2017 Record: 15-10; This Week: 1-1
OffRtg: 104.7 (4); DefRtg: 101.0 (4); NetRtg: 3.7 (4); TS%: 52.5 (7)
Elena Delle Donne is expected to miss at least one or two more weeks with a torn ligament in her left thumb. After a surprising loss to the suddenly-hot San Antonio Stars, the Mystics bounced back with a win over Phoenix thanks to the clutch play of Kristi Toliver. Washington’s upcoming schedule is fairly light with just two games over the next 10 days, all part of a four-game homestand. Up first is Indiana on Saturday, followed by the defending champion Sparks next Wednesday (8/16, ESPN2).
5. Phoenix Mercury
Last Week’s Ranking: 5
2017 Record: 13-12; This Week: 0-2
OffRtg: 102.6 (7); DefRtg: 101.0 (5); NetRtg: 1.6 (5); TS%: 54.4 (4)
The Mercury are coming off back-to-back close losses on the road to Connecticut and Washington, with the two defeats coming by a combined six points. As Phoenix continues to be without this season’s leading scorer, Brittney Griner, it has looked to all-time leading scorer Diana Taurasi to carry more of the offense. Taurasi has eclipsed 30 points in three of her last six games, but her additional scoring has not translated into wins as the Mercury are 0-3 in those games.
6. Dallas Wings
Last Week’s Ranking: 8
2017 Record: 13-14; This Week: 2-0
OffRtg: 103.6 (6); DefRtg: 107.7 (12); NetRtg: -4.1 (9); TS%: 52.1 (9)
After losing to Seattle and Los Angeles to close out July, the Wings bounced back to beat those same two teams to open up August. And they did so in impressive fashion. First, they tied the WNBA record for 3-pointers made in a game as they splashed 16 from beyond the arc in a win over Seattle. That was followed two days later by a win over the defending champion Sparks in a game that saw eight lead changes and nine ties. The final tie came at 71-71 with 4:40 to play before the Wings outscored the Sparks 14-8 down the stretch. Up next, the Wings close out a three-game homestand against Phoenix (Thurs., 8 ET, ESPN2) before heading to Connecticut to face the East-leading Sun.
7. New York Liberty
Last Week’s Ranking: 6
2017 Record: 12-12; This Week: 0-2
OffRtg: 100.4 (8); DefRtg: 101.2 (6); NetRtg: -0.8 (6); TS%: 51.3 (10)
The Liberty closed out their five-game road trip with losses in San Antonio and Los Angeles to finish 2-3. They are back home for two of their three games this week, beginning with a Tuesday matchup against Indiana and closing with a Sunday matinee with Los Angeles. New York is 7-4 at Madison Square Garden this season, but just 5-8 on the road. As they look to hold their playoff position, the Liberty will be at home for six of their final 10 games.
8. Seattle Storm
Last Week’s Ranking: 7
2017 Record: 10-15; This Week: 0-2
OffRtg: 104.2 (5); DefRtg: 105.6 (10); NetRtg: -1.4 (7); TS%: 58.1 (1)
Breanna Stewart has tied the WNBA record for consecutive games of at least 20 points with 12 straight dating back to June 29. However, the Storm are just 4-8 in those 12 games. Only one of those wins came on the road, which is where the Storm will be this week as they face the Sun (Tues. 7 ET, Twitter) and Mercury (Sat. 10 ET, League Pass). Seattle currently sits in ninth place as one of three teams within a half game of each other for the eighth and final playoff spot. If Seattle is to rise above the competition, it must find success away from KeyArena. The Storm are just 2-9 on the road and have six of their final nine games away from home.
9. Chicago Sky
Last Week’s Ranking: 10
2017 Record: 10-16; This Week: 2-0
OffRtg: 98.7 (9); DefRtg: 103.5 (8); NetRtg: -4.7 (10); TS%: 53.0 (6)
After opening the season 3-12, the Sky have gone 7-4 since the start of July to put themselves into playoff contention. Chicago is coming off back-to-back wins over Indiana and Atlanta, two of the four teams separated by just 1.5 games near the bottom of the playoff field. Eastern Conference Player of the Week Courtney Vandersloot has four straight points-assists double-doubles and leads the league in dimes (7.7 per game). She’ll go for a fifth straight double-double on Thursday against the suddenly-hot San Antonio Stars, who have won three straight games.
10. Atlanta Dream
Last Week’s Ranking: 9
2017 Record: 10-15; This Week: 0-2
OffRtg: 97.9 (11); DefRtg: 99.9 (3); NetRtg: -2.0 (8); TS%: 49.6 (12)
Atlanta has lost seven of its last nine games and its past four overall, which is the longest active streak in the league. In their last loss, the Dream took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter, but were unable to hold off a Chicago rally as they fell to 3-10 on the road. Fortunately for the Dream, their first two games of the week come at home, where they are 7-5. Unfortunately, they must face 20-3 Minnesota in their first attempt to snap the losing skid and continue to fight for the playoffs.
11. Indiana Fever
Last Week’s Ranking: 11
2017 Record: 9-17; This Week: 1-1
OffRtg: 98.6 (10); DefRtg: 106.9 (11); NetRtg: -8.3 (11); TS%: 52.2 (8)
The Fever entered Sunday’s matchup with the league-leading Lynx riding a five-game losing streak, dating back before the All-Star break. But behind a season-best 31 points from Candice Dupree and a putback by Erlana Larkins with 8.2 seconds to play, they pulled off the upset. The Fever will need more of those efforts if they hope to stay alive in the playoff race. They open up a three-game road trip on Tuesday in New York as they face the Liberty, Mystics and Lynx over the next 10 days. The Fever are just 3-10 on the road this season and can’t afford to take many more losses with three teams ahead of them in the race for eighth.
12. San Antonio Stars
Last Week’s Ranking: 12
2017 Record: 6-21; This Week: 3-0
OffRtg: 95.4 (12); DefRtg: 103.9 (9); NetRtg: -8.5 (12); TS%: 50.5 (11)
After going 3-21 in their first 24 games, the Stars matched that win total in three games last week, as they picked up victories over New York, Washington and Seattle during a three-game homestand. The last time the Stars had won three straight was Aug. 10-17, 2014, when they closed out the regular season with three wins and qualified for the playoffs. This year’s win streak has seen strong performances from rookie Kelsey Plum, who dished out a career-best 12 assists against Washington and followed it up with a career-high 23 points against Seattle.