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WNBA teams set for sprint to end of regular season, playoffs

The WNBA teams are ready to sprint to the finish with one month left in the regular season.

The WNBA teams are ready to sprint to the finish with one month left in the regular season.

With most teams having about a dozen games left and 11 of the 12 franchises in the playoff hunt, it should be an exciting final five weeks.

Only three games separate the top five teams – Chicago, Las Vegas, Seattle, Connecticut and Washington. Unlike the past five years, when first or second place meant a bye to the playoff semifinals, this season the WNBA changed its postseason format to a more traditional bracket.

However, a top-four seed means hosting the first two games of the best-of-three opening round and potentially not having to play a road game to advance.

Chicago, again topping the AP WNBA Power poll this week, has been the hottest team in the league, winning eight of their last 10 games. That route helped Sky play their home game against Las Vegas in the Commissioner’s Cup championship game on July 26.

The Aces struggled en route to the All-Star break, losing five of their last seven games. Las Vegas begins its stretch run with a three-game road trip beginning in New York.

Seattle, Connecticut and Washington are hot on the heels of the top two teams.

POWER SURVEY

1. Chicago (16-6): The Sky had a busy weekend hosting the All-Star Game and half its players attended the celebrations. They play three games this week, two of them away.

2. Las Vegas (15-7): The Aces announce stretch run with three non-stop away games this week after four of the Las Vegas starters played in the All-Star game.

3. Seattle (15-8): The Storm is hosting Dallas and Indiana this week and is trying to maintain the momentum they had before the All-Star break. Seattle has won seven of their last ten games.

4 (tie). Connecticut (14-8): Consistency is what the Sun is looking for as they have struggled to build a winning streak since winning four straight earlier in June.

4 (tie). Washington (14-10): The Mystics are 11-4 with Elena Delle Donne playing and 3-6 without her. Washington will play on both sides of the country this week, with games in Los Angeles, Phoenix and then at home to Minnesota on Sunday.

6 (tie). Los Angeles (10-12): The Sparks have been playing well lately behind strong play from Nneka Ogwumike. For them to crack the top half of the standings their guards will need to get healthy as Brittney Sykes, Kristi Toliver and Jordin Canada all lost time through injury.

6 (tie). Atlanta (10-12): The Dream is in for a big week of games against Chicago, Connecticut and Phoenix as Atlanta can help secure a playoff berth.

8. New York (9-13): The Liberty meets Las Vegas twice this week after the teams combined 223 points on offense to a win in New York last week.

9. Minnesota (8-15): A strong finish before the All-Star break has put the Lynx back in playoff contention. Minnesota has been in the postseason every year since missing the playoffs in 2010.

10. Phoenix (10-14): This wasn’t the season the Mercury envisioned earlier in the year. With the absence of Brittney Griner looming over the team and Tina Charles now in Seattle, it’s been a challenging season for Phoenix.

11. Dallas (10-12): The All-Star hiatus allowed Satou Sabally a few more days to come back to full strength and she will be key for the Wings to make a playoff push. She was away for most of June with a knee injury before returning in early July.

12. Indiana (5-19): Six straight losses keep the Fever bottom of the table, but the future looks bright with strong play from rookies NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Sabrina Ionescu from New York was voted AP Player of the Week. She averaged 26.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists to help the Liberty split their games last week. Minnesota’s Aerial Powers and Seattle’s Breanna Stewart also received votes.

GRINER UPDATE

Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to drug possession charges at her trial last week. She will appear in court again on Thursday. The WNBA paid tribute to Griner at All-Star Weekend and announced her as an honor starter, while all players wore jerseys with her name and number on the back for the second half of the game. Game MVP Kelsey Plum dedicated her award to the Mercury Center.

GAME OF THE WEEK:

Las Vegas, Connecticut, Sunday. The Aces complete their three-game road trip against the sun.

WNBA teams sprint to the end of the regular season, playoffs

https://www.king5.com/article/sports/wnba/storm/wnba-teams-set-for-sprint-to-end-of-regular-season-playoffs/281-84fff6f2-87f0-4358-959f-9a887d886b01 WNBA teams set for sprint to end of regular season, playoffs

Emma Bowman

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