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Washington Mystics' Aerial Powers (23) drives against Minnesota Lynx's Odyssey Sims during a WNBA basketball game on Aug. 16, 2019, in Minneapolis, Minn.David Joles/The Associated Press

Playoff-bound teams would usually be able to rest players before the postseason with a week left in the regular season.

With nothing really wrapped up as far as playoff positioning, that won’t be happening for most WNBA teams – not even current No. 1 seed Washington. The Mystics hold a half-game lead on Connecticut for the top spot with a few games to play. The Sun hold the tiebreaker between the teams.

“We’re still playing for something,” Sun coach Mike Thibault said by phone on Monday. “It’s a big deal to have home court all the way through and have a potential Game 5 in the Finals at your home.”

The Mystics have already clinched a top-two seed and won’t play again until the semi-finals. They will have eight days off after the regular season finishes. That will allow injured players Kristi Toliver (right knee bone bruise) and Aerial Powers (left gluteal) a chance to rest and heal.

“We’ll get them healthy and have a chance to try out some different lineups the last couple of games,” Thibault said. “We’ll try and figure out what works best with each lineup offensively and defensively.”

Thibault has noticed an increase in the level of competition over the past month since the all-star game with so many teams fighting for the playoffs and positioning.

“It’s made the quality of play good in our league because of it. Everyone has had something at stake every night,” he said. “Teams like Indiana and Dallas, to some degree, were still mathematically alive with a week to go.”

Power poll

A look at this week’s WNBA poll:

1. Washington (23-8): Thibault promised his team that they could go to the U.S. Open if they had clinched a top-two spot in the playoffs by then. The Mystics made the trek on Sunday.

2. Connecticut (22-9): One more victory will get the Sun a bye to the semi-finals and let them avoid a one-and-done playoff game.

3. Las Vegas (20-12): Bill Laimbeer made a change in the starting lineup by benching Kelsey Plum. She responded with a 17-point fourth quarter to help the Aces get a key win over Los Angeles.

4. Los Angeles (19-12): The Sparks finish off the regular season with three straight home games. A loss in Las Vegas may have cost them a chance at getting a top-two seed.

5. Chicago (19-13): The Sky is still in the mix for a first-round bye, but need to win their final two games and get a little bit of help for that to happen.

6. Minnesota (17-15): Four straight wins have put the Lynx in position to play host to a first-round game in the playoffs.

7. Seattle (16-15): Jordin Canada had a career game in a win Sunday. When she’s playing well, the Storm is tougher to beat.

8. Phoenix (15-16): Aside from a poor performance against Chicago, the Mercury has looked pretty good lately since Diana Taurasi returned, winning its previous two games before Sunday’s loss.

9. Indiana (11-21): One more victory will double the win total for the Fever from last season. Rookie Teaira McCowan has been a big reason why. She’s 20 rebounds short of setting the franchise record for a single year held by Erlana Larkins (303).

10. Dallas (10-21): Arike Ogunbowale has scored 543 points this season, tying her for 10th all-time among rookies.

11. New York (9-22): The Liberty may use the final few games to see what second-round pick Han Xu can do. The Chinese centre looked good in extended minutes last week.

12. Atlanta (7-24): The Dream are locked in to having the worst chance at getting the No. 1 pick in the lottery.

Player of the week

Ogunbowale earned player of the week honours after helping Dallas go 1-1 this week. She averaged 32.5 points, 6.5 assists and 1.5 steals for the Wings. Other players receiving votes included Elena Delle Donne of Washington, Brittney Griner of Phoenix, Napheesa Collier of Minnesota and Courtney Williams of Connecticut.

Game of the week

Minnesota at Los Angeles, Sunday: It’s the last day of the regular season and there’s a good chance both teams will have already sealed their playoff positions. Still, any time the Lynx and Sparks meet it’s entertaining, and there could still be something at stake in this game.

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