Seattle Storm
vs.
Connecticut Sun
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As the 2004 WNBA Finals tip off on Friday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena (7:30 p.m. ET), the only thing we know for sure is that a new champion will be crowned. Either the Storm or Sun will be the fourth champion in WNBA history.

History Repeating Itself?
Dating back to the league's inception in 1997, the team with the greatest point differential between points scored and points allowed in the regular season has gone on to win the WNBA Championship every year. This season, the Seattle Storm led the WNBA in that category. In scoring 71.68 points per game and only allowing 66.59 ppg, the Storm led the WNBA in that category in 2004. Lauren Jackson, who led the regular season in scoring with 20.5 points per game, is also the leading scorer in the playoffs. If the reigning MVP finishes as the postseason scoring leader, she would be the first to lead both since Cynthia Cooper did so 1999. Cooper accomplished the feat three times between 1997 and 1999 and won a championship with the Comets all three times.

Storm-ing Their Court
If history repeats itself, then the Storm are in a good position. All WNBA champions have been crowned on their home court. With the home court advantage, Sacramento plays at Key Arena in Games 2 and 3 of the Finals.

All-Star Cast
Between the two teams, seven current and former WNBA All-Stars will be participating in this year's Finals. For Connecticut, Nykesha Sales and Taj McWilliams-Franklin played in the August 5th at Game at Radio City. It was Sales' sixth All-Star appearance and MwWilliams-Franklin's fourth. Rookie Lindsay Whalen played in the Radio City game as a "Fan's Choice" selection to the WNBA All-Star Team and forward Wendy Palmer, the co-recipient of the 2004 WNBA Most Improved Player Award, was a All-Star in 2000. For the Storm, Jackson and point guard Sue Bird have been All-Stars in each of their seasons in the WNBA and forward Sheri Sam was a 2002 represenatative as a member of the Minnesota Lynx.

Best of Three
The Seattle Storm were the league's best 3-point shooting team in the regular season, connecting on 38.0% from downtown. Leading the way were Jackson (45.2%) and Bird (43.8%), who were third and fourth in the league respectively in 2004. Conversely, Connecticut struggled in its 3-point FG defense, giving up 37.8% (12th out of the 13 teams). The Sun, themselves, shot 31.9% from beyond the arc (11th of out of the 13).

Look Out For Ms. October
If baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson is known as Mr. October for his postseason heroics, consider Whalen, still just a rookie, as a strong "Ms. October" candidate. Whalen had a spectacular rookie campaign, averaging 8.9 points per game and 4.8 assists per game in the regular season, but has stepped it up big time since the Playoffs got underway. Her 15.4 ppg in the postseason is currently seventh in the WNBA, but the 6.5 ppg increase from the regular season to the postseason is the biggest increase in the league. What a year it has been for Whalen, who led the Minnesota Gophers all the way to the 2004 Women's Final Four back in March.

Women Out Front
Storm coach and Hall of Famer Anne Donovan history has a chance to become the first female coach to win a WNBA title. The three previous championship coaches are Van Chancellor (Houston), Michael Cooper (Los Angeles) and Bill Laimbeer (Detroit).

Bird on a Wire
Sue Bird, who broke her nose in a first round game against Minnesota and had surgery prior to Game 3 against Sacramento, could become just the second player in WNBA history to win and Olympic gold medal and a WNBA Championship in the same year. Bird, who won two national championships in the state of Connecticut as a member of the UConn Huskies, also won the gold with the U.S. in Athens this past August. Comets forward Sheryl Swoopes accomplished the feat back in 2000.

Tale of the Tape
Even though Sun coach Mike Thibault likes to mix up his defensive matchups, meaning we may not always see these respective players going head-to-head, here is a look at each team's postseason stats to date, by position:

CONNECTICUT SUN
SEATTLE STORM
PG
Lindsay Whalen
MPG
PPG
RPG
SPG
APG
31.6
15.4
2.6
1.4
4.6
Sue Bird
MPG
PPG
RPG
SPG
APG
27.8
7.6
2.4
1.6
6.2
SG
Katie Douglas
MPG
PPG
RPG
SPG
APG
33.2
8.8
3.8
.60
3.6
Betty Lennox
MPG
PPG
RPG
SPG
APG
29.6
10.0
3.2
.80
3.0
SF
Nykesha Sales
MPG
PPG
RPG
SPG
APG
32.0
12.2
4.6
3.0
1.8
Sheri Sam
MPG
PPG
RPG
SPG
APG
33.2
9.4
6.4
1.2
4.2
PF
Wendy Palmer
MPG
PPG
RPG
SPG
BPG
20.6
5.6
5.0
.40
.20
Lauren Jackson
MPG
PPG
RPG
SPG
BPG
35.2
22.6
7.2
.80
1.0
C
Taj McWilliams-Franklin
MPG
PPG
RPG
SPG
BPG
30.8
12.2
8.0
1.4
.60
Kamila Vodichkova
MPG
PPG
RPG
SPG
BPG
28.0
5.6
3.0
1.2
1.0
Res.
Asjha Jones
MPG
PPG
RPG
SPG
APG
22.4
8.0
3.0
.60
1.6
Janell Burse
MPG
PPG
RPG
SPG
BPG
15.2
4.2
2.2
1.4
1.4
Res.
Jessica Brungo
MPG
PPG
RPG
SPG
APG
13.0
1.8
2.6
1.4
.60
Tully Bevilaqua
MPG
PPG
RPG
SPG
APG
14.8
3.0
2.4
1.2
2.0

2004 Season Series
The Sun and Storm split the season series, with each team winning their game at home. In their first meeting this season back on June 11, the Storm held of the Sun, 68-63. Jackson scored 22 points and Kamila Vodichkova had a season-high 18 and 10 rebounds as Seattle won the third consecutive game in its season-high six game winning streak (NBA TV highlights: 56k | 300k ). Just two months later, on September 12, the Sun returned the favor, winning 71-64 at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Katie Douglas paced Connecticut with 21 pts while McWilliams-Franklin had 10 rebounds.