Lynx, Fever Entrenched at the Top
By Brian Martin,

For the third straight week the top two spots and the bottom two spots remain the same in the Power Rankings. It's the spots in between that continue to fluctuate, much like the daily standings. With three teams - Phoenix, San Antonio and Seattle - separated by just a half game in the West and Connecticut and New York by just one game apart in the East, the middle of the rankings is up for much debate.


TEAM (last week) W / L NOTES
Minnesota (1)
16-5 The Lynx finally lost a game, snapping their franchise-record win streak at nine games, but their hold on the top spot in the Power Rankings remains strong. They are the second-highest scoring team in the league (82.5 ppg) and outscore their opponents by a league-best average of 7.95 ppg. The Lynx hold a 3.5 game lead for the top record in the West and feature the current player of the month (Seimone Augustus) and rookie of the month (Maya Moore).
Upcoming Games: 8/12 @ Chicago, 8/14 vs Tulsa, 8/16 @ Connecticut
Indiana (2)
16-7 Since their three-game losing streak just before the All-Star break, the Fever has won six of its last seven games to remain atop the Eastern Conference standings, currently holding a 1.5 game lead over Connecticut. As usual the Fever are getting it done with defense as they have the league's second-best defense (allowing 72.3 ppg). Erin Phillips continues to fill in admirably for the injured Briann January at the point.
Upcoming Games: 8/13 vs New York, 8/16 @ San Antonio, 8/18 @ Los Angeles
Phoenix (6)
13-9 After losing five of six games and trading starting center Kara Braxton to New York for "conduct detrimental to the team," the Mercury rebounded with a pair of impressive wins over Minnesota (snapping their nine-game win streak) and Atlanta (posting 109 points, breaking the century mark for the first time in nearly a month). DeWanna Bonner, whose minutes have increased since the Braxton trade, just posted the best game of her career against Atlanta (25 points, 13 rebounds).
Upcoming Games: 8/12 @ Los Angeles, 8/16 vs Seattle, 8/20 vs San Antonio
San Antonio (5)
13-9 San Antonio gets the edge over Connecticut here by virtue of beating the Sun on the road Thursday night. However, there is cause for concern in Texas in what we'll call the Case of the Disappearing Offense. Take a look at these numbers. In June, the Silver Stars averaged 92.1 points per game and went 7-1. In July, their scoring dropped to 74.3 ppg along with their record of 4-5. So far in August, the Stars are averaging 67.2 ppg and have posted a 2-3 record. Part of this dropoff is due to the loss of Danielle Adams to a toe injury. San Antonio averaged 82.3 points with Adams and 72.4 without her. But she went injured on July 26, so the downward trend definitely began prior to her absence.
Upcoming Games: 8/14 vs Chicago, 8/16 vs Indiana, 8/20 @ Phoenix
Connecticut (4)
14-8 Perhaps it was just a hiccup on their way to successful run toward the playoffs, but Thursday's loss to San Antonio was a bit baffling. Tina Charles scored just six points and grabbed six rebounds on the night - we've seen her do that in one quarter many times this season. In Connecticut's last two games, the normally efficient center has scored just 22 points on 8-of-33 shooting. However, the Sun remain within striking distance of the Fever in the East.
Upcoming Games: 8/13 vs Washington, 8/16 vs Minnesota, 8/18 @ New York
Seattle (3)
13-10 The Storm picked up a much-needed win over the Shock on Thursday after posting two of their worst games of the season in road losses to Atlanta and New York. Against the Dream, the Storm committed 27 turnovers and shot just 38 percent from the field (21 percent from three) on their way to 70-53 loss. Now it was the first game of an East coast trip with a long trek from Seattle to Atlanta, but things did not get much better in New York two days later. Once again plagued by turnovers (18) and poor shooting (31 percent), the Storm failed to break 60 points. On a positive note, the Storm has played most of their road schedule already, leaving seven of their final 11 games at home, where they are 9-1 this season.
Upcoming Games: 8/13 vs Atlanta, 8/16 @ Phoenix, 8/20 vs New York
New York (7)
13-9 After alternating wins and losses for two weeks, the Liberty have won three of their last four games, although similar to Seattle above, their offense has been a bit anemic, with two sub-60 point outings. After spending much of July and early August at home (only four road games out of 13 games in that span), the Liberty hit the road for five of their next seven games, where they have posted a .500 so far this season.
Upcoming Games: 8/12 @ Washington, 8/13 @ Indiana, 8/16 vs Washington
Atlanta (8)
10-12 Over the past month, the Dream has started to resemble the team that made it to the WNBA Finals last season. After digging themselves a huge hole early in the season, the outstanding play of Angel McCoughtry, the return of Sancho Lyttle and increased team chemistry now has the Dream sitting in the No. 4 spot in the East, a half game ahead of Chicago. Keep in mind, the Dream's road to the Finals last year started from the No. 4 seed.
Upcoming Games: 8/13 @ Seattle, 8/16 @ Los Angeles, 8/19 vs Connecticut
Chicago (10)
10-13 When trying to figure out the up and down season of the Chicago Sky, the best indicator thus far has been home vs. road success, not only in terms of record but overall play. Here are the numbers. In 12 home games, the Sky has posted an 8-4 record and averaged 80.8 points per game, being held under 70 points just once. In 11 road games, the Sky has a 2-9 record and has averaged 66.9 points per game, a difference of 13.9 points. On the road the Sky have been held under 70 points eight times, including two games under 60 and one game under 50. However, they still remain just a half game out of the playoff picture as they search for their first postseason berth.
Upcoming Games: 8/12 vs Minnesota, 8/14 @ San Antonio, 8/20 @ Washington
Los Angeles (9)
8-13 The Sparks have won just four out of the 15 games since they lost Candace Parker in late June, with two of those wins coming against the Shock, who have won just a single game all season. While the Sparks have not been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, their hopes to make a run at the No. 4 spot are fading fast. If they hope to rally, they will need to do so against some of the top teams in the league over the next eight days as they face Phoenix, Atlanta, Indiana and Minnesota in their next four games. They have a combined record of 55-33.
Upcoming Games: 8/12 vs Phoenix, 8/16 vs Atlanta, 8/18 vs Indiana
Washington (11)
4-15 Earlier this week came news that All-Star guard Alana Beard would miss the remainder of the 2011 season after re-aggravating a foot injury from training camp while practicing with the team last week. While Beard is disappointed by not being able to return to the court with her teammates, it's important for her future and that of the Mystics to shut it down for the season. On a positive note, Matee Ajavon is having a breakout season and Crystal Langhorne continues to improve.
Upcoming Games: 8/12 vs New York, 8/13 @ Connecticut, 8/16 @ New York
Tulsa (12)
1-21 Things continue to be tough in Tulsa, as the Shock is still looking for its second win of the season. And with two of their next three games against the Lynx, that may be hard to come by. Rather than discussing the team's struggles, I want to give a special shout out to head coach Teresa Edwards, who is being enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday.
Upcoming Games: 8/14 @ Minnesota, 8/21 vs Los Angeles, 8/23 vs Minnesota