July 6, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Liberty guard Cappie Pondexter (23) is defended by Chicago Sky forward Tamera Young (1) during the first half at the Allstate Arena. Photo by Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE.
Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve was disappointed to find out that the WNBA.com power rankings had her team ranked third in its last power rankings on July 10 and the latest ESPN Hollinger Rankings suggest it's justified: the game between the elite and mere playoff teams is only growing and the Lynx are one of two teams in that elite category.
The other team in that category is the San Antonio Silver Stars.
|1||San Antonio Silver Stars|
|3||Los Angeles Sparks|
|9||New York Liberty|
Surging Silver Stars Could Stay Hot Heading Into Minnesota Next Week
The Silver Stars will look for their 12th straight win tonight against the Washington Mystics at home, where they are 7-1 this season and undefeated since an early-season loss to the Chicago Sky, who have since gone downhill. After that game they'll get a test on Thursday against the Los Angeles Sparks - who they've already beaten three times this season in large part due to the Sparks' inability to stop their pick and roll offense - and then face the scrappy Tulsa Shock.
So just going by the odds, there's a reasonable chance that the Silver Stars will head to Minnesota to face the Lynx a week from today riding a 14-game winning streak, which will add to the intrigue of that game - they split with the Lynx prior to the Olympic break, but their first meeting in Minnesota was prior to really finding their rhythm. It's getting ahead of ourselves a bit to look ahead to next week, but a win in Minnesota next week could make the finish to this season a lot more interesting.
Chicago Sky's Game vs. the New York Liberty Tonight A Must-Win
On the other side of the league, the Sky are still slumping even with the return of guard Epiphanny Prince from injury and the reason is obvious: turnovers.
And if they can't find a way to solve that problem, they might just play their way out of the playoffs - despite a terrible start to the season, the New York Liberty have slowly started to hit their stride and are only 1.5 games behind the Sky in the standings and less than a point behind in Hollinger's power rankings.
That makes tonight's game between the Liberty and Sky easily the most significant game of the night.
The Sky have lost 10 of 11 and losing another home game to a playoff contender would be reason enough for panic in its own right, but they also split with the Liberty in the first half of the season; a Sky loss tonight brings the Liberty within .5 games of fourth in the conference and puts them at a serious disadvantage in winning the four-game season series because the final game between the two teams is in New York, where the Sky haven't won since August 14, 2009 (for whatever that's worth).
And unfortunately, things won't get much easier on the Sky before that trip to New York on September 7: 4 of the 6 intervening games on the road and the two home games are against the Sparks (ranked #3 in the Hollinger rankings) and the Indiana Fever (ranked #4). The next home game? The Lynx on September 11.
Things could get disastrous before they get better for the Sky if they don't figure out how to cut down on turnovers and that begins tonight.
To check out the full Hollinger rankings, click here.