NEW YORK (AP) — The WNBA is back in full swing after the monthlong Olympic break and if the opening weekend was any indication, it's going to be an exciting final few weeks.
Los Angeles looked to be the team in the best position to maintain its momentum and continuity coming out of the break with only one Olympian on the roster. Yet the Sparks have struggled, dropping their first two games. They fell out of first in The Associated Press WNBA power poll for the first time since Week 6.
Minnesota moved into the top spot, but also suffered a loss falling to Connecticut.
There are now only three games separating the fourth and 10th spots in the playoff chase, making every game meaningful.
POWER POLL: Minnesota moved back to No. 1 and Chicago climbed to fourth in the AP power poll. A look at this week's WNBA poll:
1. Minnesota (22-5): Coach Cheryl Reeve would like to clinch one of the top two spots so she can get some rest for her four Olympians.
2. Los Angeles (21-5): Schedule isn't kind to Sparks down the stretch. Signing Sandrine Gruda will help bolster the roster.
3. New York (19-8): Getting Epiphanny Prince back from her ACL injury will make the Liberty more potent offensively.
4. Chicago (13-13): Not even the break could slow down the Sky, who are back at .500 and climbing.
5. Atlanta (14-13): Now's the time that the Dream usually make their playoff push.
6. Phoenix (12-14): The Mercury are finally looking like the team that was predicted to win the WNBA crown this season.
7. Indiana (12-13): The Fever have a bad taste in their mouth after a blowout loss to Washington. Itching to get back on the court.
8. Seattle (10-16): The Storm split with the top two teams when they returned from Rio and now look to build on an easier schedule.
9. Connecticut (9-17): The Sun are one of the hottest teams in the league and have a chance to further try and improve their playoff chances this week.
10. Washington (10-16): The Mystics looked great against Indiana before falling to San Antonio. They also lost guard Bria Hartley for the season after she got pregnant.
11. Dallas (9-18): The Wings slump continued as they have lost eight straight games. Their chances of making the postseason are fading.
12. San Antonio (6-19): The Stars won a game, but are still languishing at the bottom of the standings.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Elena Delle Donne had a strong week averaging 26 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3 assists to help the Sky win both their games. Others receiving votes included: Atlanta's Angel McCoughtry, Phoenix's Diana Taurasi and Minnesota's Lindsay Whalen,
GAME OF THE WEEK: Phoenix Mercury at New York Liberty, Saturday, Sept. 3. The Mercury will try and continue their rise in the standings as they visit the Liberty.
THE SHOE'S ON THE OTHER FOOT: Brittney Griner, in partnership with the Mercury and the Phoenix Rescue Mission collected nearly 500 pairs of shoes over the weekend for the Valley's homeless.
"I am so thankful and overwhelmed by everyone's support," said Griner. "The generosity from my teammates and the X-Factor is amazing. When I thought of this idea, I never would have dreamed we would have received so many pairs of shoes. This is just one of the many reasons the Mercury family, especially our fans, are known as the best in the WNBA."