WNBA teams ready for stretch run with All-Star break done
NEW YORK (AP) With the WNBA All-Star Game behind them, teams will start prepping for the stretch run and qualifying for the postseason.
Minnesota and Los Angeles obviously have a leg up with a lead for the coveted first two spots in the playoffs. Then there are nine teams within a few games of each other for the rest of the postseason spots. Injuries could be key to determining who gets to the playoffs.
Phoenix's Brittney Griner is out for a few more weeks while recovering from knee and ankle injuries.
''It's going to be a change for us. We've gone two games without (Griner) and it's an adjustment because this year we were depending on her for so much on both ends of the court,'' Diana Taurasi said. ''So now it's a little bit of a readjustment period of finding things that work for the personnel that we have now.''
While Griner will be out for a few more weeks, Elena Delle Donne returned from an ankle injury Tuesday against San Antonio. The Mystics currently sit in fourth place in The Associated Press WNBA power poll and are in the thick of the playoff hunt.
POWER POLL: There was no movement this week; the Lynx and Sparks still lead the way. Here's a look at this week's WNBA poll.
1. Minnesota (16-2): Fatigue might be the only thing that can slow down the Lynx as they had four All-Stars and the coach of the game.
2. Los Angeles (14-6): Sustained the first home loss of the season before the All-Star break. Don't want that to become a trend.
3. Connecticut (12-9): The Sun have nine home games left - most of anyone in the league.
4. Washington (12-9): The Mystics got good news with the return of Delle Donne earlier than expected.
5. New York (10-9): The Liberty have a five-game road trip that will most likely determine their chances of staying in the hunt for a bye in the playoffs.
6. Phoenix (11-9): The Mercury sure have looked like a very different team without injured star Griner.
7. Dallas (10-12): The Wings love getting up and down the court in a hurry, which causes trouble for a lot of teams.
8. Seattle (9-11): Put on quite an impressive show for the All-Star Game. Now they'll try and right the ship before it's too late for a playoff run.
9. Chicago (8-13): Except for maybe Minnesota, no team is playing better right now. The Sky dug themselves a big hole at the start of the season that they are climbing out of.
10. Atlanta (9-11): Brittney Sykes has been playing great since she became a starter, has put herself in consideration for rookie of the year.
11. Indiana (8-13): No team had a tougher schedule before the All-Star break with three road games in four days. The rest was much needed and welcomed.
12. San Antonio (3-18): Stars routed Indiana and will look to string together wins for the first time this season.
GAME OF THE WEEK: Sun at Mystics, Friday. Washington blew a 22-point lead in Connecticut when the teams met earlier this month. They'll try and not have a repeat performance.
TRENDING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: WNBA President Lisa Borders said at the All-Star Game that attendance is up 2.1 percent from last season after the same number of games (122). The number is a little lower than the average (7,655) that the league saw at the end of last season. ... Borders also said the league is averaging 800,000 fans watching its broadcasts on Twitter.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Tina Charles, Liberty. She had 28 points and 17 rebounds in New York's win over Connecticut. Other players receiving votes included Chicago's Allie Quigley and San Antonio's Isabelle Harrison.
To find the poll online: http://collegebasketball.ap.org/ap-wnba-power-poll-week-11
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