Less than a month ago, first-year Atlanta coach Nicki Collen woke up with an 8-9 record after a nine-point loss to Seattle. At the time, her squad had a 59 percent chance to make the playoffs and just an 8 percent chance to reach the WNBA Finals, according to ESPN's Basketball Power Index (BPI).
But after riding a franchise-record eight-game win streak into the All-Star break, Atlanta's dream of a championship run could become a reality. Now the Dream have a 29 percent chance to make the playoffs, second only to the Seattle Storm.
When will we get a Lynx-Sparks rematch
Last year at the All-Star break, Minnesota and Los Angeles owned the two best records in the league, and appeared well on their way to a Finals rematch (spoiler alert: it happened).
This season, the BPI gives the last two WNBA champions a 20 percent chance to meet in the playoffs. But unlike the previous two postseasons, the Lynx and Sparks are more likely to collide in the first or second round -- a single-elimination game -- than in the Finals.
They've had plenty of experience with winner-take-all games, with both the 2016 and 2017 Finals going the full five games.
Who gets the double bye?
The second-place Dream (16-9) hold just a one-game lead over the Lynx (15-10) in the standings coming out of the All-Star break. However, the BPI doesn't foresee the defending champions (or 2016 champion and 2017 runner-up Sparks, for that matter) earning the double bye.
The Lynx have the second-toughest remaining schedule in the league, with tests at home against the Dream and a pair of games against league-leading Seattle (19-7).
Aces trying to play way into the postseason
Las Vegas (12-13) was one of the two hottest teams entering the All-Star break, winning six of its last seven games. The Aces will have to keep the momentum going with just nine games left to earn their first postseason berth since 2014.
The Aces' first test comes Wednesday at home against Phoenix (15-11), losers of six of their last seven games. The BPI gives the Aces a 58 percent chance to reach the playoffs entering that game; a loss would lower their playoff chances to 30 percent.
Nearly every game is a must-win in a postseason race where four games separate a double bye from a team on the outside looking in. After hosting the Mercury, the Aces will make visits to seventh-place Washington (14-11) and eighth-place Connecticut (14-12) this weekend, with a 20 percent chance to win both contests.
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