With home-court advantage in 2010, the Seattle Storm swept through the postseason en route to their second WNBA title. The Storm are hoping to begin this season’s playoff run at KeyArena, especially with how they’ve come up short on the road.
Needing one win to match a league record with an eighth straight postseason berth, Seattle will try to avoid its first five-game road losing streak in five years Friday night against the league-worst Tulsa Shock.
After posting a league- and franchise-best 28-6 record last season, the Storm had the home-court edge in every round of the playoffs and went 7-0 - four at KeyArena - to claim the championship.
They already know they won’t have the same advantage throughout this year’s playoffs because Minnesota has clinched the best record in the Western Conference. Seattle (17-13), tied for the league’s best home record at 13-2, is in a tight race with Phoenix for the No. 2 seed.
“We’ve still got four games left,” Sue Bird said after Seattle’s season-high four-game winning streak was snapped with Tuesday’s 68-62 loss at Los Angeles.
“We have a shot at second place, which would give us home-court advantage.”
The Storm can equal the Sparks’ league record (1999-2006) for consecutive playoff appearances, but they’re 4-11 on the road after going 0-4 in August - the last three by a total of 10 points.
Heading to Tulsa could help Seattle avoid its first five-game road skid since July 22-Aug. 8, 2006.
The Storm have won five straight over the Shock (3-26) and are 4-0 in the season series, including two matchups in Tulsa.
When these teams met last Thursday, Seattle extended Tulsa’s league-record losing streak to 20 with a 74-57 home victory. However, the Shock won two straight following that defeat, though they fell 96-74 to the Mercury on Tuesday.
“Tulsa has really improved, they have more energy now,” Phoenix coach Corey Gaines said.
Tulsa is getting a much-needed two days of rest before Friday’s matchup after playing six times in 10 days.
“That’s just a little too many games and it’s catching up to us right now,” interim coach Teresa Edwards said. “I think we’re really tired.”
Forward Tiffany Jackson hasn’t looked that way against Seattle this season, averaging 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds - better than her season averages of 12.0 and 8.2.
Storm center Lauren Jackson is averaging 15.0 points and 5.6 rebounds in five contests since missing 20 with a torn hip labrum suffered in an 82-77 victory at Tulsa on June 21. Jackson had 14 points and three boards last Thursday.
Bird is averaging team highs of 16.5 points and 5.0 assists against the Shock in 2011.