WNBA.com Power Rankings: August 16, 2005

The season is winding down and the races are heating up. While the Connecticut Sun clinched home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs with an 80-77 victory over the Washington Mystics on Sunday, the rest of the postseason field still has to play itself out with under two weeks to go in the regular season. In fact, two games on Tuesday on NBA TV could have playoff implications. The Becky Hammon-led New York Liberty (16-13) hosts the Mystics (14-14) and Alana Beard at 7:30 p.m. ET, followed by the Western Conference-leading Sacramento Monarchs (20-8) visiting the L.A. Sparks (13-15) at 10:30 p.m. ET. The latter game also features a trio of MVP candidates in Yolanda Griffith, Chamique Holdsclaw and Lisa Leslie. Washington's loss to Connecticut dropped the Mystics into a tie with Detroit for the fourth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The Liberty is in third place, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Shock and Mystics, and one game behind the second-place Indiana Fever. In the West, the fifth-place Sparks trail the Phoenix Mercury (13-14) by only one-half game for the final playoff spot.

2005 WNBA.com POWER RANKINGS: Week Twelve
TEAM (last)
1 23-6The Sun continue to roll along, have won five games in a row now including three last week and have wrapped up the top spot in the Eastern Conference heading into the playoffs. Connecticut won at home against Los Angeles and then swept the Mystics in a home-and-home, crippling Washington's playoff run in the process. Of their five remaining games, the Sun play four at home and their only road game is in Charlotte.
Upcoming: vs. Charlotte, vs. New York
2 20-8The Monarchs saw their seven game winning streak snapped at the hands of the Mercury on Friday night, but still hold a comfortable lead in the West. In fact they have already clinched a playoff spot in the east and are just days away from clinching the best overall record in the conference.
Upcoming: at Los Angeles, vs. San Antonio

Came out of their western road swing relatively undamaged, still holding onto second place in the conference. The Fever have not been to the playoffs since 2002, but Tamika Catchings is playing some of the best basketball of her career, leading the Fever in every statistical category. Of Indiana's five remaining games four are against teams with .500 or better records, so they need to finish strong or risk losing home court advantage in the first round.
Upcoming: vs. Washington, vs. Charlotte

16-13The Liberty have won three games in a row, including two against the Sting last week and are charging to the finish. They are just a game out of second place, but must go the rest of the way without All-Star center Ann Wauters, who broke a bone in her hand against the Sting on Sunday. Four of New York's remaining five games come against teams with .500 or better records, so they, too, will have theiur work cut out for them.
Upcoming: vs. Washington, at Connecticut
16-13 The Comets split their series with Seattle last week and remain tied with the Storm for second place in the Western Conference. They get the nod over Seattle for this spot because they won more recently. Houston also has one of the easier schedules remaining, with all five games against teams with sub-.500 records. Also, one of several All-Stars can beat you on any given night, making MVP-candidate Sheryl Swoopes and the Comets a tough out every time.
Upcoming: at Minnesota, vs. Phoenix
16-13Tied for second with the Comets (though Seattle holds the tiebreaker with a better conference record), the Storm split two games sandwiched around a win in Minnesota on Friday night. Seattle and Houston have no more games against each other, so each must win as many as they can while watching the out-of-town scoreboard during time outs.
Upcoming: vs. Minnesota, at Sacramento
Detroit (9)
14-14In the words of a famous Detroit musician... "Guess who's back, back again..." The Shock have won four games in a row and have jumped over Washington for the fourth and final playoff spot. Katie Smith seems to be adjusting nicely and Swin Cash continues to improve and regain her old form. Four of Detroit's remaining six games come on the road, including a big west coast swing coming up this week. It will be the make-or-break road trip of the season for Detroit.
Upcoming: at Phoenix, at Los Angeles
13-14They scored a big home win over the Monarchs on Friday, but the Mercury were unable to sustain the momentum and lost to the Fever on Sunday night. In splitting their weekend, yet with eight games still to play (more than anyone else), the Mercury stand alone in the fourth spot in the west. But how will they do without Maria Stepanova, who could leave at anytime to return to Russia to play with her national team?
Upcoming: vs. Detroit, at Houston, vs. San Antonio
9 14-14Just when the Mystics looked to be clicking at the right time, they ran into the conference-leading Sun and dropped both games in the home-and-home series. This brought the Mystics back to .500 and down to fifth place in the East. The Mystics still have four games on the road, and all six games come against the teams they are looking up at in the standings.
Upcoming: at New York, at Indiana
10 13-15The Sparks continued to struggle on the east coast swing, losing in Connecticut and New York on back-to-back nights before coming home to top Indiana on Saturday and get back into the win column. The Sparks are only a one game behind the Mercury in the loss column in the west and very much control their own destiny.
Upcoming: vs. Sacramento, vs. Detroit
13-16The Lynx jumped into fourth place for a period last week, but then lost a heartbreaker in Detroit and then at home to the Storm on Friday night to fall two games behind the Mercury in the loss column. The Lynx only have five games remaining and need every one of them just to hang on in the playoff race.
Upcoming: vs. Houston, at Seattle
12 7-23The Silver Stars have been eliminated from playoff contention and lost thrice more this week. However, Shannon Johnson received her Olympic gold medal ring this past weekend, the last player to do so. The Silver Stars have four more games this season, all against potential playoff teams in the West.
Upcoming: at Sacramento, at Phoenix
4-25The Sting have also been eliminated from playoff contention, getting swept by the Liberty in a home-and-home, though nearly pulling out a huge upset at home in double OT. In winning four games, the Sting have already avoided the dubious distinction of being the team with the fewest wins in one season in WNBA history, which belong to the 1998 Washington Mystics.
Upcoming: at Connecticut, at Indiana