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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.''