WNBA.com Power Rankings: August 23, 2005

With less than a week to go in the WNBA's regular season, most of the remaining games take on added importance with many of the playoff seeds still to be determined and most of the major awards races still wide open. Tonight's ESPN 2 matchup between Phoenix and Sacramento (10 p.m. ET) is such a game. Diana Taurasi and the Mercury (16-15), who missed the playoffs in Taurasi's rookie season last year by one game, are in fourth place in the Western Conference. With three remaining games for each team, the Mercury has a one-game lead over the Sparks. Phoenix owns the tie-breaker over L.A. by virtue of winning the season series 2-1. Meanwhile, the Monarchs (24-8) trail the Sun (23-7) by only one game for home-court throughout the playoffs. What's more, Sacramento coach John Whisenant figures to garner strong consideration for Coach of the Year honors, while center Yolanda Griffith is a solid MVP candidate.

2005 WNBA.com POWER RANKINGS: Week 13
TEAM (last)
1 24-7The Sun split their two games last week, winning at home against Charlotte early on, but dropping a big game to the rival Liberty on Saturday for just their second home loss of the season. The Sun have clinched the best overall record in the east, but no longer have any breathing room in front of the Monarchs for best overall record in the league. The Sun really want that home court throughout, recalling last season's consecutive road losses in the Finals.
Upcoming: vs. Indiana, vs. Washington
2 23-8The Monarchs saw their seven game winning streak snapped two weeks ago, but have already started another streak, winning three games in a row. They clinched the best record in the West and are just a game behind the Sun for the top overall record. The Monarchs do have two games on the road, an injured DeMya Walker and would lose the head-to-head tiebreaker to the Sun, but Sacramento has proven that they can accomplish pretty much anything this season.
Upcoming: at Seattle, vs. Phoenix, at Minnesota

The Fever are playing their best basketball of the season right now, having won three games in a row last week and clinched a playoff berth. In doing so, Indiana also assured that it will finish with their best record in franchise history. Center Natalie Williams, who has inidicated that this is likely her last season, had a stellar week, along with MVP candidate Tamika Catchings, who always has a good week.
Upcoming: at Connecticut, at Detroit, vs. New York

18-13The Liberty have won five games in a row now and are currently the hottest team in the WNBA. Talk about peaking at just the right time, New York won at home in a nail-biter over the Mystics on Tuesday, then went up to Mohegan Sun Arena and dealt the best team in the league a loss at home. Without All-Star center Ann Wauters, who is out for at least a few weeks, the Liberty have found increased scoring and rebounding from a variety of sources, including sixth man-turned-starter Shameka Christon and forward Elena Baranova. They must keep pace with the Fever in order to have a chance at home court in the first round.
Upcoming: at Washington, vs. Charlotte, at Indiana
17-14Seattle came into last week tied with the Comets, but split their two games while the Comets lost two out of three. Seattle desperately needs home court in the first round as they are only 5-11 on the road this season. After their final road game in San Antonio on Tuesday, they return home for a revenge game with the Monarchs and a potential do-or-die game for the Mercury in Seattle on the final night of the season.
Upcoming: at San Antonio, vs. Sacramento, vs. Phoenix
17-15 The Comets lost two out of three games last week and were unable to differentiate themselves from the Storm in the battle for home court in the 2-3 series. A half-game back with only two games remaining, the Storm hold the tiebreaker edge over the Comets, so Houston essentially needs to win their final two games to have a good shot at home court advantage in the first round.
Upcoming: at Phoenix, vs. Los Angeles
16-15The busiest team of last week continues to gain ground, going 3-1 last week. In doing so, they climbed above .500 for the first time all season and eliminated the Lynx in the process. However, the Mercury have one of the toughest schedules remaining and the Sparks just a game behind them. Without center Maria Stepanova, who returned to Russia last week, the Mercury need to find a way to stop the three teams above them in the Western Conference standings in the final week of the season.
Upcoming: at Sacramento, vs. Houston, at Seattle
Detroit (7)
15-16The Shock may not be above .500 and went 1-2 last week, yet their win over the Mystics on Sunday gave them a virtual two-game lead in the race for fourth as the Shock hold the tiebreaker. The starting lineup that features five All-Stars is coming together and learning how to play with each other, and could be a dangerous team should them qualify for the playoffs.
Upcoming: at Charlotte, vs. Indiana, at Washington
9 15-16The Sparks have won two games in a row behind monster efforts by superstar Lisa Leslie, who refuses to go down without a fight. Coach Henry Bibby left the team in the past week, and the Sparks are now led by Joe Bryant. Just one game behind the Mercury for the fourth spot, Los Angeles no longer controls its own destiny, and will need help in order to catch up.
Upcoming: vs. Minnesota, at San Antonio, at Houston
10 14-17When they were 14-12 just two weeks ago, the Mystics seemed like they were well on their way to their second consecutive playoff berth. But in dropping five straight, the Mystics are hanging on for dear life and must win out against their final three opponents to qualify.
Upcoming: vs. New York, at Connecticut, vs. Detroit
14-18The Lynx lost two in a row to close out the week, and were thus eliminated from the playoff race. Suzie McConnell Serio's team fell out of the race after trading Katie Smith to Detroit, but in the process, got even younger, which could help to shape the future of the Western Conference for years to come.
Upcoming: at Los Angeles, vs. Sacramento
12 7-25The Silver Stars have been eliminated from playoff contention and are currently on a seven-game losing streak. They still have a chance to play spoiler to the Sparks, who will come thru Texas in their final game of the season with an outside chance of still qualifying for the postseason.
Upcoming: vs. Seattle, vs. Los Angeles
4-27The Sting have also been eliminated from playoff contention and need to win out to avoid finishign with the worst record in the WNBA. However, three games against likely playoff teams will make that a difficult task. Charlotte fans still have a chance to see some of the best players and teams coming to town in the final week as possible Eastern Conference representatives in the Finals rally for the playoffs
Upcoming: vs. Detroit, at New York, vs. Connecticut