East is coming down to the wire in WNBA
NEW YORK (AP) There’s one week left in the regular season and the only thing decided in the Eastern Conference is that New York is the top seed.
The Liberty clinched the No. 1 spot with a victory over Minnesota on Sunday and now need just one more victory or loss by Minnesota to secure home-court throughout the playoffs. New York (22-9) has matched the franchise record for victories set in 2010.
“It was important for us to clinch the Eastern Conference home-court advantage tonight. That was goal number one,” Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said. “Goal number two, obviously, both teams eyeballed each other tonight as a possible overall league-best record.”
Chicago sits in second, 1 1/2 games in front of Indiana. The Sky already clinched the second winning season in franchise history and will most likely face the Fever in the opening round of the playoffs. Indiana has a two-game lead on fourth-place Washington.
The Mystics still haven’t clinched a playoff berth but can do so with one more victory or a loss by Atlanta. Washington lost to the Dream on Sunday and the two teams meet again next Sunday to close out the regular season.
While the seeding in the East is still a work in progress, the West is pretty much set barring something crazy happening this week. Minnesota has a two-game lead on Phoenix. Tulsa sits in third and Los Angeles clinched the final spot in the West on Sunday and has secured the fourth seed. The Sparks can still move up to third if they win their remaining two games and the Shock drop all three of theirs.
STAT OF THE WEEK: It was a pretty good week for Elena Delle Donne. She scored the 1,500th point of her career Sunday and was honored with the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award.
“That really means so much to me,” said Delle Donne, who turned 26 on Saturday. “Growing up, my parents always raised me to give back and I always knew if I ever got a spotlight I was going to do something far bigger than myself and give back. So an award like that really means the most to me.”
FOND FAREWELL: Sophia Young-Malcolm played the final home game of her career Saturday. The nine-year veteran announced her retirement earlier this week.
“I don’t necessarily think that it has hit me yet,” she said after the 82-52 loss to Phoenix on Saturday. “I feel like it is just another game, and maybe after this season is over that is when it is going to hit me, when I realize it. We keep saying it, but it hasn’t necessarily hit yet. It doesn’t feel like it is the last game that I am going to be playing at home, but it has been great. Obviously I am sad that we lost by so much, but it has been great.”
Young-Malcolm scored eight points in the loss. San Antonio’s final two games are on the road.
GAME OF THE WEEK: Mercury at Shock, Sunday. Tulsa will play its final regular season game in Oklahoma when the Shock host Phoenix. There’s a good chance that these two teams will meet in the postseason in the first round.