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The Bottom-Rung Ballers in the WNBA

With two weeks left in the WNBA regular season, the term clinched is a coveted phrase when it comes to talking about the playoffs. The New York Liberty and Chicago Sky are the two latest teams to clinch a spot in the playoffs, with the Liberty clinching on Friday and the Sky following suit on Saturday.

But what about the four teams that don’t get a shot a glory?

The next two weeks are a race to the finish for teams who’ve yet to clinch a playoffs spot, but for those whose shot at the playoffs are dim, the next two weeks are the last two of the 2015 season for them.

In the West, the Seattle Storm and San Antonio Stars have held the bottom two spots for the majority of the season. In this past week, Seattle passed San Antonio in the rankings after its 83-69 triumph on its home turf in Seattle.

The Storm currently hold a 8-20 season record, and their biggest challenges this season have been the teams out of the East, as they’re 1-7 against teams from the rival conference. Meanwhile, in their own territory, the Phoenix Mercury and Minnesota Lynx have posed their own insurmountable troubles.

It’s been a rough go of it for the Storm, although the team doesn’t lack leadership. In fact, Sue Bird, Crystal Langhorne and Jewell Loyd lead the team. But their biggest woes develop from the powerful competition that brewed in the East this year, and scoring has been a struggle.

The Stars have fared even worse than their losing West counterpart. The Stars have yet to win a game on the road, and their overall record is 7-22, the worst of any team in the league. The most recent blow for the Stars came this week when forward Sophia Young-Malcolm announced she’s retiring following the season. As far as what’s plagued the team this season, those road struggles have obviously been a disaster, and their offense is the worst in the WNBA.

The two teams meet again for the final game of the regular season on Sept. 13.

Over in the Eastern Conference, there’s been a lot of shifting over the past few weeks. The only consistent team has been the New York Liberty in first place.

The Atlanta Dream and Connecticut Sun are tied for last place at the moment, and they both have similar reasons for what landed them in this position. Both teams have struggled defensively, and additionally, the majority of their losses stem out of their own conference.

The upper part of the East is filled with power players that know how to scoop up the big points in meaningful games. Unfortunately for both the Dream and Sun, their top players aren’t hitting the shots to make it count, or if they are, it comes when it’s already too late.

Atlanta’s made it to the Finals three times in the past five seasons, however, they’ve yet to win a championship title. Angel McCoughtry leads the team in scoring with an average of 20.1 points per game. Unfortunately, while McCoughtry can fill it up, she can also lose scoring opportunities for her team as she leads both the team and the league in turnovers with 3.2 per game. The team has fallen away from what they were last season when they clinched the East with a record of 19-15. This year, they stand at a record of 12-17.

Meanwhile, Connecticut is on a seven-game losing streak. They had a chance to snap the streak after five losses when they played the Mercury earlier in the week, but Phoenix’s Leilani Mitchell hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to snatch the win from the Sun. It was another rough loss in a season full of them.

Despite the bleak outlook for the bottom-rung teams, there’s still two weeks left in the season where they could make a surge to claim a spot in the playoffs.

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