Gm 1: at Hou., Thu., 8/17, 9 p.m. ET. NBA TV
Gm 2: at Sac., Sat., 8/19, 3:30 p.m. ET. ABC
Gm 3*: at Sac., Mon., 8/21, 10 p.m. ET. NBA TV
An Eastern Conference Finals rematch out West, these wo veteran clubs know each other well. It took the Sacramento Monarchs half of the season to start looking like the defending champions, but after the All-Star break, the Monarchs easily moved into the second seed and rolled into the playoffs with a seven-game winning streak in July. Despite a slight decline in Yolanda Griffith's scoring and rebounding numbers from last season, the 2005 WNBA Finals M.V.P. is still leading the Monarchs as they make their eighth straight postseason appearance. The Houston Comets advance to postseason play for the ninth time in the storied ten-year history of the franchise. The Comets secured the third seed with a win in its last game of the season despite numerous setbacks. The Comets fended off the Mercury in spite of several injuries, including a calf injury to leading scorer Tina Thompson, which forced the 6-2 forward to miss much of the second half of the regular season. Thompson returned to play the final two regular season games and scored 37 and 31 points in those final two games. Guard Dawn Staley, who was traded to Houston on August 1, 2005, announced her retirement earlier this season and will be making the sixth and final playoff appearance of her eight-year career.

2006 Regular Season: Houston Comets 3 - Sacramento Monarchs 1
Some fast facts about the Monarchs-Comets first-round matchup:

The only time Houston did not qualify for the playoffs was in 2004, when they finished the regular season with a franchise-worst 13-21 record. This season, the Comets finished with a 12-5 at home, but only a 6-11 record away from the Toyota Center. Either Sheryl Swoopes or Tina Thompson led the team in scoring in 25 of the 24 Comets games this season.
The last time the Monarchs entered the postseason as a two-seed was in 2001. They advanced to the Conference Finals, but ended up losing to the Los Angeles Sparks in three games. The Monarchs won the title last year as the top seed in the West, yet won Game One of the 2005 WNBA Finals on the road and sealed the deal at home in Game 4.
Yolanda Griffith was the only player on the Monarchs to average double-digits in points per game this season (12.0 ppg). Yet, DeMya Walker returned from maternity leave near the end of July and has steadily improved throughout the season. She averaged nearly 12 ppg in her final 12 games.
Dawn Staley will retire after this postseason, but that doesn't mean she won't be around the game anymore. The eight-year guard will continue her coaching career with the Temple women’s basketball program where she has coached since April 12, 2000. Yet Staley still finished second in the WNBA in 3-point percentage and sixth in assists per game.


Thursday, May 25, Arco Arena, Sacramento, CA: Comets 81, Monarchs 66 | Box score

Sacramento Leaders: Rebekkah Brunson (8 pts., 9 reb.), Kristin Haynie (6 pts., 4 reb.)
Houston Leaders: Sheryl Swoopes (22 pts., 7 reb.), Tina Thompson (19 pts., 7 reb.)
NBA TV highlights: Play

Wednesday, June 14, Toyota Center, Houston, TX: Comets 73, Monarchs 66 (OT) | Box score

Sacramento Leaders: Nicole Powell (11 pts., 9 reb.), Yolanda Griffith (14 pts., 4 reb.)
Houston Leaders: Tina Thompson (26 pts., 6 reb.), Michelle Snow (18 pts., 8 reb.)
NBA TV highlights: Play

Sunday, July 2, Toyota Center, Houston, TX: Comets 77, Monarchs 62 | Box score
Sacramento Leaders: Yolanda Griffith (14 pts., 13 reb.), Erin Buescher (12 pts., 6 reb.)
Houston Leaders: Sheryl Swoopes (14 pts., 6 reb.), Dawn Staley (11 pts., 9 ast.)
NBA TV highlights: Play

Tuesday, August 1, Arco Arena, Sacramento, CA: Monarchs 74, Comets 62 | Box score
Sacramento Leaders: Yolanda Griffith (16 pts., 7 reb), DeMya Walker (16 pts., 3 reb)
Houston Leaders: Sheryl Swoopes (17 pts., 12 reb), Michelle Snow (18 pts., 5 reb)
NBA TV highlights: Play