WNBA playoff picture still muddled; Sparks sit atop AP poll
NEW YORK (AP) — The WNBA is headed into the final week of the regular season and there are a few playoff spots still up for grabs. Postseason seeding is also still undecided with several teams jockeying for position.
Los Angeles and Minnesota have clinched the top two seeds. The Sparks though only sit a half-game behind the Lynx for homecourt advantage throughout the postseason and have the tiebreaker. The Sparks also were a unanimous choice atop The Associated Press WNBA power poll on Tuesday.
New York and Connecticut have first-round byes, but also are a half-game apart from each other for the three and four seeds. The teams split their four games during the regular season and the Liberty most likely would have the second tiebreaker of record against .500 or better teams.
Washington, Phoenix, Dallas and Seattle round out the playoff field for now. The Storm and Wings still need a win or two to get in.
POWER POLL: Los Angeles solidified its spot at No. 1 with win over Minnesota on Sunday.
1. Los Angeles (24-8): The Sparks have continued to improved their defense throughout the season and are looking good in quest to repeat as champions.
2. Minnesota (24-7): Rebekkah Brunson returned from an ankle injury, but Lynx are still missing Lindsay Whalen. The point guard remains sidelined with broken bone in her hand.
3. New York (20-12): Eight straight victories have pushed the Liberty to third in the power poll.
4. Connecticut (20-11): The schedule isn’t kind with road games in Washington, Phoenix and Los Angeles to close out season.
5. Washington (17-14): The good news is Elena Delle Donne is back from a thumb injury. Bad news is the Mystics lost consecutive games with her on the court.
6. Phoenix (16-16): A big win in Seattle may have clinched a first-round home game in the playoffs.
7. Dallas (15-17): The Wings just need one more win or loss by Chicago to secure a postseason berth.
8. Seattle (14-18): The initial boost from a coaching change seems to have worn off.
9. Chicago (12-19): At least if the Sky don’t make the playoffs they’ll have two picks in the draft lottery.
9. Atlanta (12-20): The team finally won a few games in August, but it’s too little too late.
11. San Antonio (7-23): The Stars continue to play teams tough even though it hasn’t translated into many wins.
12. Indiana (9-23): The Fever are in an unfamiliar role of trying to play spoiler.
GAME OF THE WEEK: Storm at Sky, Sunday. Seattle hopes to have already clinched a playoff spot by the time the game tips off.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Tina Charles, Liberty. Charles averaged 18.3 points, eight rebounds and two steals to help the Liberty win all three of their games this week and continue their torrid play. Other players receiving votes include Los Angeles’ Nneka Oguwmike and Alana Beard as well as Atlanta’s Layshia Clarendon.
HELPERS: Seattle’s Sue Bird is three assists away from passing Ticha Penicheiro for the most in WNBA history. Bird had a chance to set the mark at home against Phoenix, needing only six assists at that point, but she finished with three.
To find the poll online:http://collegebasketball.ap.org/ap-wnba-power-poll-week-16
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