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Week 6 Power Rankings: And Then There Was One

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.

Power Rankings on a Thursday? Yes, this week’s rankings were delayed by a couple days due to a few important events happening on our regularly scheduled Tuesday.

In addition to the announcement of the WNBA Top 20@20 on Tuesday morning, there was kind of a big game that tipped off just after noon on the West Coast. I was lucky enough to be in attendance to see the showdown between the undefeated Lynx and Sparks.

The Lynx took the first round of what looks to be a thrilling trilogy of regular season matchups this year. Minnesota extended its record-breaking start-of-season run to 13-0 as it handed the Sparks their first loss of the season. Luckily for the Sparks — and for us watching — they get another shot at the Lynx on Friday in Minnesota.

We’ll see if that game has an impact on next week’s rankings, which will be back at our regularly-scheduled Tuesday release.

Click here to view this week’s AP Power Poll

1. Minnesota Lynx
Last Week: 1
2016 Record: 13-0
OffRtg: 107.7 (2); DefRtg: 91.4 (2); NetRtg: 16.2 (2)

13-0. Enough said.

2. Los Angeles Sparks
Last Week: 2
2016 Record: 11-1
OffRtg: 108.0 (1); DefRtg: 89.8 (1); NetRtg: 18.2 (1)

I had the chance to speak with Candace Parker after Tuesday’s loss. Here is a bit of what she had to say: “We hadn’t tasted defeat yet so it will be good to see how we bounce back from this and bounce back playing the same team on Friday.”

When I asked how nice it is to get another shot at the Lynx in just a few days rather than having to wait a few weeks, her response was: “Yes, it is. It’s very nice. Mmm hmm.” It wasn’t just what she said, but how she said it that made an impact on me. She was ready to get back on the court and run back the rematch at that very moment.

3. New York Liberty
Last Week: 4
2016 Record: 9-4
OffRtg: 98.9 (8); DefRtg: 94.2 (3); NetRtg: 4.7 (3)

After suffering their worst loss of the season (100-77 to L.A.) back on June 7, the Liberty have won five straight games to climb to the top of the East standings. There is still a gap between Minnesota/L.A. and the rest of the league, but New York is at the top of that next tier.

4. Dallas Wings
Last Week: 10
2016 Record: 6-7
OffRtg: 103.8 (5); DefRtg: 105.6 (10); NetRtg: -1.8 (5)

So this is what the Wings look like with a healthy Skylar Diggins and Glory Johnson back on the court together with Odyssey Sims and the rest of the crew. After dropping six straight games, the Wings have bounced back with a three-game winning streak, including back-to-back wins over Phoenix. The first of those victories came in triple overtime on the road in a game that saw Diggins log a season-high 42 minutes.

5. Atlanta Dream
Last Week: 3
2016 Record: 8-5
OffRtg: 98.4 (9); DefRtg: 101.4 (4); NetRtg: -3.1 (T-6)

The Dream have lost back-to-back games to East rivals Washington and New York, including a 30-point loss to the rising Mystics. After a five-game winning streak to close May and open June, the Dream have been up-and-down over the past few weeks — two straight losses, followed by two straight wins and then again two straight losses. Atlanta opens a three-game road trip in San Antonio on Saturday that also includes stops in Seattle and L.A. as they look to get back on the right track after dropping four of their last six games.

6. Washington Mystics
Last Week: 9
2016 Record: 7-7
OffRtg: 100.0 (7); DefRtg: 103.1 (7); NetRtg: -3.1 (T-6)

After dropping their first five games at the Verizon Center, the Mystics finally found a way to win at home just as they opened up a season-long five-game homestand this past week. The Mystics have won five of their last six games and look to stay hot at home as they welcome a trio of Western Conference opponents to the nation’s capital over the next week.

7. Chicago Sky
Last Week: 6
2016 Record: 6-7
OffRtg: 105.2 (3); DefRtg: 104.2 (8); NetRtg: 1.0 (4)

Elena Delle Donne scored 19 of her 23 points in the second half as the Sky snapped a three-game losing steak with an 81-75 win over last-place San Antonio on Tuesday. The Sky are about to hit a tough stretch of their schedule with four of their next five games coming against New York (won five straight), Washington (won five of last six) and Minnesota (still undefeated).

8. Phoenix Mercury
Last Week: 5
2016 Record: 4-9
OffRtg: 104.9 (4); DefRtg: 108.4 (12); NetRtg: -3.5 (8)

Perhaps I was too hasty in bumping the Mercury up so high in last week’s Power Rankings, as they have lost three straight games since I made that decision. But let’s look closer at those three losses. The first was a six-point loss to the then-undefeated Sparks in L.A. Less than 24 hours later, the Mercury were back in Phoenix for a matchup with Dallas that went into triple-overtime and resulted in another six-point loss. Two days later, the Mercury dropped a rematch with the Wings, this time by 10 points in Dallas.

Is it the worst three-game losing streak? No. But it’s still a three-game losing streak, and at 4-9, the Mercury have no time to waste to get this season turned around. Unfortunately for Phoenix, the schedule doesn’t get any easier with road games in Washington and New York over the next three days.

9. Indiana Fever
Last Week: 8
2016 Record: 5-9
OffRtg: 96.7 (11); DefRtg: 102.5 (6); NetRtg: -5.8 (10)

After leading the league in three-point percentage last season (36.0%) as they made their run to the WNBA Finals, the Fever are shooting just 27.3% from beyond the arc this season, the second-lowest percentage in the league behind Atlanta. Marissa Coleman, Briann January, Shenise Johnson and Tiffany Mitchell are all shooting under 37 percent from the field for a Fever squad that has lost five of its last six games.

10. Seattle Storm
Last Week: 7
2016 Record: 4-9
OffRtg: 101.1 (6); DefRtg: 106.5 (11); NetRtg: -5.4 (9)

The Storm played the defending champs tough on Sunday, nearly spoiling the matchup between the undefeated teams that we saw on Tuesday. However, the end result was Seattle’s third straight loss to drop the team to 4-9 on the season. The Storm average 80.0 points per game, but their defense has surrendered at least that many points in 10 of their 13 games this season, ranking second-to-last in the league in Defensive Rating.

11. Connecticut Sun
Last Week: 11
2016 Record: 3-10
OffRtg: 96.9 (10); DefRtg: 104.3 (9); NetRtg: -7.5 (11)

One thing you can be almost certain of when playing the Sun: It’s going to be a close game. In their last five games, the Sun have gone 2-3 in games decided by a total of 21 points for an average margin of victory of 4.2 points. In fact, only three of their 10 losses this season have been by double figures. Two of Connecticut’s three wins have come against the 12th-ranked Stars and the other came against the 10th-ranked Storm, which just so happens to be Connecticut’s next opponent on Friday in Seattle.

12. San Antonio Stars
Last Week: 12
2016 Record: 2-10
OffRtg: 94.1 (12); DefRtg: 102.2 (5); NetRtg: -8.2 (12)

The Stars have lost three straight games by a total of 18 points — an average margin of defeat of six points. San Antonio’s fifth-ranked defense is good enough to keep the team in games, but their last-place offense (94.1 points per 100 possessions and just 73.0 points per game) continues to keep them at the bottom of the standings.


ASSOCIATED PRESS POWER POLL

1. Minnesota (14)
2. Los Angeles
3. New York
4. Atlanta
5. Washington
6. Dallas
7. Chicago
8. Indiana
9. Phoenix
10. Seattle
11. Connecticut
12. San Antonio

Click here to view the full rankings on AP.org