Note: WNBA.com’s Power Rankings, released every Tuesday during the season, are the opinion of this writer and do not reflect the views of the WNBA or its clubs.
So, last week we wrote about how incredibly tight the WNBA playoff race was with three weeks remaining in the season.
Now with one more week passed, have things gotten any clearer?
We do have our first team officially in the playoffs, as Seattle clinched a playoff berth with its win over defending champion Minnesota on Friday.
We also have our second team eliminated from playoff contention, as the Liberty joined the Fever in next year’s draft lottery.
Other than that, we have seven teams separated by just four games between the Nos. 2 and 8 seeds prior to Tuesday’s four-game slate, which is sure to shake things up even more.
1. Seattle Storm (22-7, clinched playoff berth)
Last Week: 1, 3-0 (W at PHX, W vs MIN, W at NYL)
OffRtg: 108.3 (1); DefRtg: 98.3 (2); NetRtg: 9.9 (1)
The Storm have won four straight games and have a 3.5 game lead over the rest of the field with five games to play over the final two weeks of the season. After being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, the Storm are close to clinching a top two seed, which would allow them to bypass the first two rounds and open the playoffs in the Semifinals.
2. Atlanta Dream (18-10)
Last Week: 2, 2-1 (L vs WAS, W vs. CHI, W at MIN)
OffRtg: 97.3 (10); DefRtg: 95.8 (1); NetRtg: 1.5 (7)
The Dream continue to lead the pack just below the Storm in the race for the all-important top two seeds. While a loss to Washington snapped their franchise-record eight-game win streak, the Dream won their next two games, giving them 10 wins in their last 11 games. Tiffany Hayes continues to cook, as the East Player of the Week averaged 21.7 points on 53.3% shooting from the field and 47.6% from beyond the arc.
3. Los Angeles Sparks (17-11)
Last Week: 5, 2-0 (W vs MIN, W vs PHX)
OffRtg: 101.6 (6); DefRtg: 98.4 (3); NetRtg: 3.2 (4)
After going just 4-6 in the month of July, the Sparks opened August with home wins over Minnesota and Phoenix as they welcomed All-Star Nneka Ogwumike and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Alana Beard back to the lineup. The Sparks are back at full strength for the stretch run as they look to catch Atlanta for the second double-bye to open the postseason looking for their third straight Finals run.
4. Connecticut Sun (16-12)
Last Week: 6, 2-0 (W vs NYL, W vs LVA)
OffRtg: 107.2 (2); DefRtg: 100.4 (5); NetRtg: 6.9 (2)
The Sun enter the week riding a four-game win streak – matched with Seattle for the longest active streak in the league – as they hit the road for the final time in the regular season. The Sun will be in Dallas on Wednesday (8 PM ET, NBA TV), followed by a visit to Chicago on Friday before closing out the season with four home games.
5. Washington Mystics (16-11)
Last Week: 8, 2-0 (W at ATL, W at DAL; Canceled vs LVA)
OffRtg: 105.7 (4); DefRtg: 103.0 (8); NetRtg: 2.7 (5)
Let’s rewind to the All-Star Game two weekends ago in Minnesota, when Kristi Toliver nearly rallied Team Delle Donne to victory with an epic shooting display in the fourth quarter. Well, eight days later she was at it again, this time in Dallas. She scored the final eight points of the game, including the game-winning fadeaway jumper with 1.4 seconds left to finish off a 2-0 week for the Mystics. They open the week Tuesday in Phoenix (10 PM ET, NBA TV) before hosting the Storm and Wings to close the week.
6. Phoenix Mercury (16-13)
Last Week: 7, 1-2 (L vs SEA, W at LVA, L at LAS)
OffRtg: 104.7 (5); DefRtg: 102.9 (7); NetRtg: 1.8 (6)
The Mercury closed out the road portion of their schedule with a tough loss in Los Angeles on Sunday as their fourth-quarter rally fell short. Phoenix finishes off the 2018 regular season with five straight games in the desert, beginning Tuesday when it hosts Washington. That is followed by a matchup with the suddenly-hot Fever and a rematch with the Sparks on Sunday (7 PM ET, ESPN 2).
7. Minnesota Lynx (15-13)
Last Week: 3, 0-3 (L at LAS, L at SEA, L vs ATL)
OffRtg: 99.3 (9); DefRtg: 98.9 (4); NetRtg: 0.5 (8)
After winning three straight heading into the All-Star break, the Lynx have lost three straight since hosting the festivities, including a 79-57 loss to the rival Sparks that saw Minnesota held to its lowest point total since 2011. The three-game losing streak has coincided with a tumble down the standings (currently seventh) with so many teams bunched up in the playoff picture. Minnesota will look to get back on track on the road against Chicago (Tuesday, 8:30 PM ET, Twitter) and Las Vegas (Thursday, 10 PM ET, NBA TV).
8. Dallas Wings (14-14)
Last Week: 4, 0-3 (L vs CHI, L at IND, L vs WAS)
OffRtg: 106.3 (3); DefRtg: 102.0 (6); NetRtg: 4.3 (3)
The Wings have also come out of the All-Star break on a losing streak, dropping all three of their games by a combined nine points to extend their streak to five straight losses. The Wings find themselves back at .500 and currently occupying the eighth spot in the playoff race, two games clear of the ninth-place Aces. To make matters worse, the Wings have played their last two games without All-Star guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, who has been sidelined with a facial injury after taking a nasty fall in a loss to Chicago on July 31.
9. Las Vegas Aces (12-16)
Last Week: 9, 0-2 (L vs PHX, L at CON; Forfeit at WAS)
OffRtg: 99.8 (8); DefRtg: 103.1 (9); NetRtg: -3.3 (9)
The Aces had a rough week coming out of the All-Star break. After falling to Phoenix at home on Wednesday, the Aces endured travel issues that resulted in their Friday game against the Mystics being canceled, resulting in a forfeit. They followed that with a loss in Connecticut two days later. The Aces had an opportunity to climb in the standings with the two teams directly ahead of them – Minnesota and Dallas – each dropping three games last week. Vegas wasn’t able to capitalize and remains two games back of the eighth and final playoff spot. They close out their road trip Tuesday in Atlanta (7 PM ET, NBA TV) before heading home for three straight and four of their last five games.
10. Chicago Sky (10-18)
Last Week: 10, 1-1 (W at DAL, L at ATL)
OffRtg: 101.0 (7); DefRtg: 110.1 (12); NetRtg: -9.1 (11)
While not officially out of the playoffs, the Sky’s postseason hopes are fading as the end of the regular season gets closer. Chicago would likely have to run the table and get some help from the teams above them to have any shot at the postseason. This week, they catch a slumping Lynx squad on Tuesday (8:30 PM ET, Twitter) before a home-and-home with the red-hot Sun.
11. Indiana Fever (5-23, eliminated from playoffs)
Last Week: 12, 2-0 (W vs DAL, W at NYL)
OffRtg: 94.6 (12); DefRtg: 105.2 (10); NetRtg: -10.6 (12)
We said last week that even though the Fever were out of the playoffs, they could affect the race by playing the spoiler role during the stretch run. They responded by going 2-0 last week with wins over Dallas (currently eighth) and New York (which eliminated the Liberty from the playoffs). It was Indiana’s first two-game win streak since May 2017.
12. New York Liberty (7-21, eliminated from playoffs)
Last Week: 11, 0-3 (at CON, vs IND, vs SEA)
OffRtg: 97.3 (11); DefRtg: 105.5 (11); NetRtg: -8.2 (10)
The Liberty’s streak of three straight playoff appearances was officially snapped with Saturday’s loss to Indiana in what proved to be a strange game. The Liberty jumped out to a 19-4 lead and led 21-7 after the first quarter. The Fever closed the gap over the next two periods, but the Liberty still held a two-point advantage heading into the fourth. New York would shoot 0-15 from the field in the fourth quarter (becoming the eighth team in league history to not make a field goal in a quarter) as the Fever outscored them 17-2 to earn the win. Now, like Indiana, New York is forced into the spoiler role, with home games against current playoff teams Los Angeles and Atlanta this week.