Shock host rival Sparks in June 8 home opener

The Road to a Repeat

If you’re hoping to see the WNBA’s most anticipated matchup this summer, don’t blink.

The defending champion Detroit Shock open the 2009 season at Los Angeles - and then host the Sparks for their home opener at The Palace June 8. That’s just the beginning of an intriguing 2009 schedule, which was released by the WNBA Thursday.

The Shock will have to wait a little while longer to see the San Antonio Silver Stars, whom they defeated in the 2008 Finals. Those teams will meet twice in a week span, as Detroit hosts the Silver Stars Aug. 23 before a nationally televised meeting in San Antonio Aug. 29.

The first Finals rematch on Aug. 23 comes on the heels of the Shock at Chicago the night before. Detroit has two more back-to-back scenarios: July 18-19 (at Phoenix and Sacramento) and Sept. 9-10 (at Minnesota before hosting New York).

The Shock played five back-to-backs in 2008, including two consecutive wins over the New York Liberty in the Eastern Conference finals. The Shock and Liberty will meet three times in 2009, but only once at Madison Square Garden, July 2. The Shock went 1-2 at the Garden last season but won all four home meetings against the Liberty, who come to The Palace on Aug. 4 and Sept. 10, the Shock’s regular-season home-finale.

The Aug. 4 contest wraps up Detroit’s longest homestand, which begins July 22 against Atlanta - which holds the first pick in the 2009 draft - and is followed by dates with Minnesota (July 31) and Connecticut (Aug. 2).

The Shock and Sparks - responsible for the bench-clearing fiasco last July 22 that resulted in the most suspensions in WNBA history - will kick off the 2009 season in a nationally televised game on ABC June 6. That’s about three weeks later than the mid-May start of seasons prior, which suggests the WNBA was pleased with the 2008 schedule shift. The WNBA took most of August off to accommodate the Summer Olympics, which pushed the playoffs to a mid-September start and the WNBA Finals into October.

The 2009 regular season ends Sept. 13 (with the Shock capping their slate Sept. 12 at Chicago). Prior to 2008, the Finals generally concluded by mid-September.

The home-and-home series with the Sparks also means the Shock’s West Coast trip is shorter than it has been the past two years. Instead of a four- or five-game trip in June, the Shock’s Pacific swing is three games in mid-July - at Seattle July 15, Phoenix July 18 and Sacramento July 19.

Tickets to individual games will not go on sale until spring. For the time being, the best way to secure tickets is through the Holiday Offer, which includes a season ticket to all 17 Shock home games, first priority for 2009 playoff games and a 2008 Shock championship T-shirt for just $99. Click here for more information on the Shock holiday offer.