Rested Seattle ready for high-powered Phoenix
SEATTLE -- It was probably a good thing the Seattle Storm got an entire week off between their regular season finale and Friday night's playoff opener against high-scoring Phoenix.
Considering that Seattle scored a franchise-record 111 points when the two teams last met, both teams are likely to be tired when this series is over.
"Last season we were packing our bags and saying goodbye, so it's fun to be alive and well,'' Phoenix coach Paul Westhead said this week.
The meeting on Friday night (NBA TV, 10 ET) could be the final Storm game in Seattle. The franchise's future is in question, with the Oklahoma City-based group that owns the Sonics and Storm wanting to have an agreement by Oct. 31 to build a new arena in the Seattle area to replace KeyArena.
If such a deal is not in place by then, Clay Bennett, who heads the ownership group, has said he plans to file relocation papers with the NBA to move the Sonics to Oklahoma City, and said he has no intention of splitting the franchises.
Game 2 will be Sunday (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET) in Phoenix and Game 3, if necessary, will be Tuesday (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET) on the Mercury's home floor.
"This is where it's difficult to determine if the higher seed really has the advantage or not,'' Seattle coach Anne Donovan said. "For us to have four wins here at home and then roll into the postseason with our first game here bodes well for us.''
Aside from questions about the Storm's future, the game will provide a matchup of friends.
There is the Connecticut connection between Phoenix's Diana Taurasi and Seattle's Sue Bird, who have a dinner bet on the series. There is the Australian connection between Mercury forward Penny Taylor and Seattle's Lauren Jackson.
Then there's the scoring connection -- both teams love to score points.
In their three matchups this season, Seattle averaged 96.6 points, while Phoenix averaged 92.3. Their final meeting on Aug. 4 was an offensive showcase won by Seattle 111-101. The Storm set a pair of franchise records and tied a WNBA record with 40 points in the first quarter.
"Playoffs is a different thing. They're playing awesome basketball and you can't discount Diana, Penny and Cappie (Pondexter),'' Jackson said. "They're just going to come out and ball.''
Phoenix enters the playoffs having won five in a row and 11 of its last 12. This will be the Mercury's first playoff appearance since 2000, after missing last year's playoffs in a tiebreaker with the Storm.
Seattle took two of three from Phoenix this season.
"I just think they're a very good team. That's the issue,'' Westhead said. "To be honest with you, we didn't play poorly against them in any of the games, I just think they played extremely well.''
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
The Mercury won their first league championship, beating Detroit 3-2 in the WNBA Finals.
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