Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Handicapping the Race for No. 1

We know the Storm is IN. We know the Storm will be the fourth seed in the West. But who will finish with the top spot in the conference and opposte the Storm in the first round of the playoffs? With six days left in the WNBA season, that is very much still up in the air.

Phoenix holds a one-game lead right now over San Antonio for first. That lead is bigger than it sounds because the Mercury holds the tie-breaker between the two teams, having won the season series 3-1. However, it's also smaller than it sounds because the teams remain tied in the all-important loss column.

Phoenix's advantage stems from having played two more games than San Antonio. If the Silver Stars win out, that advantage disappears (though, again, the Mercury would still win the tie).

So how about the schedules?

Phoenix has only one opponent left on the docket: A home-and-home with Sacramento that could be difficult.

One loss by the Mercury would leave the door open for the Silver Stars if they can go undefeated. San Antonio too has the Monarchs left to play, at ARCO on Wednesday while Phoenix is resting.

Obviously, the Mercury hopes Sacramento wins that game, but that would also give the Monarchs more to play for in the season-ending home-and-home series. Sacramento can't finish in first - Phoenix would hold the tie-breaker because of conference record - but still could finish second, an effort that would be greatly advanced by beating the Silver Stars. So keep a close eye on that game tomorrow.

I think Phoenix will probably hold on for first, but this last week could get very interesting.

By the way: If you haven't checked it lately, the NBA Access with Ahmad Rashad page has now posted video of the episode featuring Sue Bird and Jackson. Click on "Season 2 Episodes" to watch.

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