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Week 9 Power Rankings: Bumps in the Road

The top three teams in last week’s power rankings – Minnesota, Los Angeles and Washington – went a combined 1-5 over the past seven days. However, these type of hiccups throughout a 34-game season are typical and not a reason to overreact. At least not yet.

Keep in mind that last year, after winning a WNBA-record 13 straight games to open the season, the Lynx lost three straight games near the season’s midpoint. That doesn’t mean Saturday’s 24-point loss to 4-12 Chicago didn’t come as a shock. It surely did.

Yes, it was definitely a game that caused plenty of double-takes at the score, but one loss won’t remove Minnesota from its perch atop this week’s power rankings.

1. Minnesota Lynx
Last Week’s Ranking: 1
2017 Record: 13-2; This Week: 1-1
OffRtg: 109.5 (1); DefRtg: 97.8 (1); NetRtg: 11.7 (1)

Before their loss to the Sky, the Lynx snapped the Sparks’ eight-game win streak in their first meeting since Game 5 of last year’s WNBA Finals. Perhaps the Chicago loss was an inevitable letdown after the much-hyped Finals rematch with L.A. This week, the Lynx face another team on a winning streak – with back to back games with the Phoenix Mercury, winners of three straight entering this week.

2. Los Angeles Sparks
Last Week’s Ranking: 2
2017 Record: 12-5; This Week: 0-2
OffRtg: 108.9 (2); DefRtg: 101.8 (5); NetRtg: 7.1 (2)

After entering last week riding a league-best eight-game win streak, the Sparks not only lost to Minnesota, but followed it up with a loss to Seattle two days later. Both of those losses came on the road, where the defending champs are just 5-5 on the season. However, they are the last unbeaten team at home (7-0) and have their next four games at the Staples Center, beginning with East-leading Connecticut on Thursday.

3. Connecticut Sun
Last Week’s Ranking: 4
2017 Record: 10-7; This Week: 2-0
OffRtg: 108.8 (3); DefRtg: 102.2 (7); NetRtg: 6.6 (3)

Connecticut’s 1-5 start is now a distant memory as they have been one of the hottest teams in the league over the past six weeks. Since the calendar struck June, the Sun are 9-2 and are riding a league-best four-game win streak entering a three-game week. Not only has Connecticut overtaken New York atop the East standings, they also feature the past four Eastern Conference Players of the Week – Jonquel Jones, Jasmine Thomas and two-time winner Alyssa Thomas.

4. Phoenix Mercury
Last Week’s Ranking: 5
2017 Record: 10-6; This Week: 3-0
OffRtg: 104.5 (6); DefRtg: 99.7 (3); NetRtg: 4.8 (4)

Out West, the reigning Player of the Week is Phoenix’s Brittney Griner, who averaged 25.3 points, 11.7 rebounds and 4.67 blocks to lead the Mercury to a 3-0 week with victories over Washington, New York and San Antonio. Phoenix opens the week with a matchup with Atlanta before a home-and-home series with Minnesota on Friday and Sunday to close the week.

5. Washington Mystics
Last Week’s Ranking: 3
2017 Record: 10-8; This Week: 0-2
OffRtg: 106.8 (4); DefRtg: 101.9 (6); NetRtg: 4.8 (5)

The Mystics opened the month of July with a daunting task – road games against three of the league’s hottest teams – Los Angeles, Phoenix and Connecticut. Washington went 0-3 in those games, with all three losses coming by single digits (6.3 average). Life on the road continues this week with contests in Indiana and New York.

6. Atlanta Dream
Last Week’s Ranking: 9
2017 Record: 8-8; This Week: 2-1
OffRtg: 97.4 (10); DefRtg: 98.4 (2); NetRtg: -1.0 (7)

The Dream have won back-to-back games for the first time since the end of May – and they won both by at least 20 points. They will look to win their third straight – and fourth in five games – when they travel to Phoenix to face a surging Mercury squad that has won three straight games of their own.

7. Seattle Storm
Last Week’s Ranking: 6
2017 Record: 8-9; This Week: 1-1
OffRtg: 104.6 (5); DefRtg: 104.1 (8); NetRtg: 0.5 (6)

After dropping six of their previous seven games, the Storm have rebounded to win two of their last three, including an impressive win over the defending champs on Saturday. Seattle shot 52 percent from the field and got 26 points from Breanna Stewart, 22 points from Jewell Loyd and 15 points (on 6-7 shooting) from Sue Bird. The win over L.A. was the second game of a five-game homestand that takes the Storm to the All-Star break. The Storm are 6-4 at KeyArena compared to just 2-5 on the road this season.

8. New York Liberty
Last Week’s Ranking: 7
2017 Record: 8-8; This Week: 1-1
OffRtg: 98.7 (9); DefRtg: 100.9 (4); NetRtg: -2.2 (8)

New York picked up a much-needed win over the Storm in Seattle last Thursday to snap a three-game skid, but followed it up with a loss in Phoenix on Sunday to close out a four-game road trip at 1-3. The Liberty have a few days off before they host Chicago on Friday to open a three-game home stretch that gets them to the All-Star break. New York is 5-3 at the Garden so far this season.

9. Dallas Wings
Last Week’s Ranking: 8
2017 Record: 9-10; This Week: 1-1
OffRtg: 103.8 (7); DefRtg: 106.9 (11); NetRtg: -3.1 (9)

After winning four straight, the Wings have lost two of their last three, with both losses coming by 20 points to Seattle and Atlanta, respectively. This week the Wings have a pair of contests with a Chicago team that enters the week at just 4-12, but is coming off a huge win over league-leading Minnesota. Skylar Diggins-Smith is coming off back-to-back games with 20+ points and seven assists as she is currently the only player to rank in the top 10 in both scoring (17.7 ppg, 8th) and assists (5.8 apg, 4th).

10. Indiana Fever
Last Week’s Ranking: 10
2017 Record: 7-9; This Week: 0-1
OffRtg: 101.9 (8); DefRtg: 109.0 (12); NetRtg: -7.1 (10)

Indiana fell to Atlanta by 21 points on Friday for their third loss in four games to drop them to 7-9 on the season. The Fever currently have the league’s 10th best record and are in danger of seeing the league’s longest playoff streak come to a close after qualifying for the postseason in 12 straight seasons. Indiana has a chance to get back on track Wednesday against San Antonio at home, before the Mystics come to town on Friday.

11. Chicago Sky
Last Week’s Ranking: 11
2017 Record: 4-12; This Week: 1-0
OffRtg: 96.1 (11); DefRtg: 104.4 (9); NetRtg: -8.3 (11)

The Sky finally won a home game after dropping their first seven games in front of their home fans. And they did so against the league-leading Minnesota Lynx. And to top it off they scored a season-high 100 points for a 24-point win. The question is, can such a huge win spark a turnaround in Chicago? At 4-12, the Sky will need a major win streak to climb back into the playoff hunt. First up is a matchup with Dallas on Wednesday at Allstate Arena. Can the Sky make it two in a row at home and build some momentum heading into the All-Star break?

12. San Antonio Stars
Last Week’s Ranking: 12
2017 Record: 1-16; This Week: 0-2
OffRtg: 92.8 (12); DefRtg: 105.6 (10); NetRtg: -12.9 (12)

After picking up their first win of the season on the final day of June, the Stars were unable to build on it during the first two games of July as they fell at home to a pair of the league’s top teams – Connecticut and Phoenix. The Stars now hit the road for three straight beginning Wednesday in Indiana before another meeting with the Sun, this time in Connecticut.