Silver Stars-Storm Preview

The Associated Press

The Seattle Storm and San Antonio Silver Stars are locked into their playoff seeds.

Both teams still want to finish their final two regular-season games on a positive note.

With three-time MVP Lauren Jackson likely back from injury, the Storm will go for a 10th straight home win over the Silver Stars on Friday night.

Earlier this month, Seattle (14-18) became the first team in league history to qualify for the postseason in nine consecutive seasons. As the fourth seed in the Western Conference, the two-time WNBA champs will open at league-best Minnesota next Friday before hosting Game 2 two days later.

The Storm, who close the regular season at Phoenix on Sunday, are expected to have Jackson available as they go for a 10th home win. The seven-time All-Star has missed the last three contests, including a 90-66 loss at San Antonio last Friday, with a strained hamstring.

Jackson is averaging 11.0 points and 6.6 rebounds in 11 games after missing the first half of the season to train with the Australian Olympic team that took bronze in London.

She's eight points shy of becoming the fourth player in WNBA history with 6,000. Jackson only trails teammate Katie Smith (6,218), Lisa Leslie (6,263) and teammate Tina Thompson (7,003), who scored 10 in Tuesday's 75-60 victory over Chicago to become the first to reach the 7,000-point plateau.

More importantly, the Storm ended a season high-tying four-game slide.

"We definitely came into this game wanting to win," said point guard Sue Bird, who had eight assists after missing the previous three games with a hip flexor. "We want to continue to prepare for the playoffs and kind of get that chemistry going."

The Silver Stars (20-12) are coming off Tuesday's 77-66 win over New York, limiting the Liberty to 4-of-17 shooting in the fourth quarter while outscoring them 22-9. Coach Dan Hughes called it "some of the best defense" the club had played all year.

San Antonio is finding a good time to improve on that side of the ball as it prepares for a first-round playoff matchup against second-seeded Los Angeles. The Silver Stars fell to No. 3 largely due to a five-game losing streak Aug. 28-Sept. 9. Since giving up 87.4 points per game during that stretch, the team is allowing an average of 69.8 points while winning three of four.

San Antonio point guard Becky Hammon had four of the team's season-best 15 steals when these teams met last week.

"Playing good basketball this last week is important to us this year," said Hughes, whose team ends the regular season Sunday against the Lynx. "... We want to get that taste of what playoff basketball is really like."

The Storm, an 82-76 winner in the Silver Stars' last visit June 22, have won nine in a row at home in this series since a 92-88 loss July 29, 2007.

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