WNBA set for wild dash to regular season finish
By Doug Feinberg
AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — The WNBA’s final week of the regular season is shaping up to be a wild dash to the finish.
Playoff seeding and the final playoff spot are still up for grab.
About the only thing that has been decided when it comes to the postseason is Seattle will have a bye to the semifinals. Atlanta is close to wrapping up a top two seed, but finishes the season with two more games on the road. Washington, Connecticut, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Minnesota are all jockeying for a first-round bye.
Dallas is fading fast, only leading Las Vegas by a game for the final playoff spot.
It also has been a busy week off the court with Dallas firing coach Fred Williams after a loss in Washington and Lindsay Whalen announcing her retirement at the end of the season
The WNBA playoffs begin a week from Tuesday.
POWER POLL: A look at this week’s WNBA poll which Seattle still sits atop :
1. Seattle (24-8): One more win or Atlanta loss would clinch the No. 1 seed for the Storm and give coach Dan Hughes a chance to rest players in the final game.
2. Atlanta (22-10): Lost Angel McCoughtry for the season with a knee injury. Need a win or Washington loss to clinch a bye to semis.
3. Washington (20-11): Have won six straight to vault into a prime spot for a first-round bye.
4. Phoenix (19-13): Is used to being on the road in the playoffs for the first couple of rounds. Mercury wouldn’t mind having a home game for a change.
5. Connecticut (18-13): Have a three-game homestand to finish the regular season with matchups against the Wings, Lynx and Sparks. Sun can assure themselves of a playoff home game with wins in all three.
6. Los Angeles (18-13): A disappointing road trip left the Sparks on the outside of a first-round bye. Doesn’t get easier with road games at Washington and Connecticut.
7. Minnesota (17-15): Lost Danielle Robinson to season-ending ankle surgery. Need to find a way to not play in the first round.
8. Las Vegas (13-18): End the season with games against New York, Dallas and Atlanta. The forfeit to Washington might loom big in their playoff hunt.
9. Dallas (14-18): Have lost eight straight and changed coaches promoting assistant Taj McWilliams-Franklin to interim head coach.
10. Chicago (12-20): Courtney Vandersloot is averaging a career-best 8.6 assists this season. She needs five assists to break Ticha Penichero’s single-season record of 236.
11. New York (7-23): Finished last season with a 10-game winning streak and are trying to avoid ending this one with a 13-game skid.
12. Indiana (5-26): Kelsey Mitchell and Victoria Vivians combined to set rookie record for 3-pointers made in a season with 127 so far.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Elena Delle Donne averaged 27.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists to help Washington go 3-0 this week. Candace Parker of Los Angeles also received votes.
CALLING IT A CAREER
Lynx star Lindsay Whalen announced Monday that she was retiring at the end of Minnesota season after playing 15 years in the WNBA. While most people relax when they retire, Whalen already has a job at her alma mater Minnesota as the women’s basketball team’s head coach. Her final two regular season games have special meaning to Whalen. She plays at Connecticut, where she was drafted in 2004 with the No. 4 pick and played the first six years of her career, and against Washington and coach Mike Thibault. Thibault coached her with the Sun and his daughter is one of Whalen’s top assistants at Minnesota.
CHANGE IN LEADERSHIP
The Wings relieved coach Fred Williams of his coaching duties after a loss in Washington on Sunday. The 61-year-old Williams was close to the end of his fifth season with the franchise. The first two years were with the Tulsa Shock before the club moved to the Dallas area and was renamed the Wings.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Las Vegas at Dallas, Friday. The Wings already hold the tiebreaker, winning the first three games of the series. The Aces hope this game will have some meaning in their quest for a playoff spot.