Open Thread: The Atlanta Dream plays against the Los Angeles Sparks at 6:00 PM ET on NBA TV

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

Happy Labor Day! One game on the docket as the Atlanta Dream (14-13) tries to stay above .500 and plays against the Los Angeles Sparks (21-8) at 6:00 PM ET. It's on old media via NBA TV, or you can watch it on new media on LiveAccess.

What's in it for LA

The Random SB Nation Song of the Day: Here's Puerto Rican rapper/reggaeton artist Daddy Yankee with "Limbo." This song was specifically done for Zumba Fitness the exercise program. I know some Zumba classes have been half time acts for events at Verizon Center.

Both teams today are trying to stay in the upper half of the playoff brackets. I see the Sparks doing it. After all, this team is threatening the Minnesota Lynx for the top spot in the Western Conference. Even if the Sparks are the #2 seed, I find it hard to believe that they will lose to the Phoenix Mercury or the Seattle Storm in a three game series. In fact, it won't shock me if the #2 seed in the West wins the whole thing, Sparks or Lynx.

What's in it for ATL

The Dream.... this team is making the playoffs, but I'm going to go ahead and call this a must-win. After starting out this season 10-1, and now playing like a lottery team, Coach Williams and the Dream need to try to rekindle some of the early season sparks that they had in order to start the postseason off on the right note.

The Western Conference Playoffs

We talked about the Eastern Conference Playoff race here, where the battle is for the #2 seed. Besides the Dream, the Mystics and Fever are in striking distance and can realistically be the #2 seed at playoff time.

For the Western Conference, three teams have officially clinched berths. The Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks already have their tickets, but last weekend, so did a team that I believed would be the Washington Mystics' counterpart as a bottom feeder in the preseason. The Seattle Storm has made a WNBA-record 10th straight playoff appearance, and has done so without the Dynamic Duo:

The Storm's work isn't done yet. The Phoenix Mercury has played inconsistently for much of the year despite being labeled the preseason league champs by a mile, though I believed and still believe that the Lynx are still better and will be the 2013 Western Conference champions at a bare minimum. At least with Russ Pennell, they are now playing better ball. With Phoenix at 15-13 and Seattle at 15-15, it's not a stretch to say that the green and gold could be

Obviously, I believe that this is bad for the Storm's long term interest and have used numerous treadmills to symbolize the situation at hand, but from a win and loss perspective, this is very commendable. I will have to give props to Head Coach and General Manager Brian Agler for the job he's done from that perspective alone, in terms of getting his team ready to play despite what many, if not most thought in the preseason.

The Storm has a piece on their 10th straight playoff berth which you can read here.

So here's a question I'll throw out there for the Western Conference playoff race. Two actually. First, can the Seattle Storm finish in third place for the Western Conference? Second, can the Seattle Storm win the first round of the playoffs? My guess is that the Storm can be third place. But like the Washington Mystics, I doubt they'll get past the first round, but with my luck on predictions and consistent hammering on their long term strategic planning, this Storm team will be facing the Mystics in the 2013 WNBA Finals presented by Boost Mobile.

That's all I have on my plate, and enjoy the rest of your weekends!

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