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10 Big Games in 2008

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Kevin Pelton, storm.wnba.com | December 13, 2007
What's the first thing you do when you see the Seattle Storm's schedule for a new season? If you're anything like me, you start circling - mentally if not physically - the biggest matchups of the year. Here's 10 big games that stand out to me, eight of them right here at KeyArena.

May 17 vs. Chicago


The Sky and Candice Dupree will be the Storm's Opening Night opponent.
Warren Skalski/NBAE/Getty
The Storm tips off 2008 on Saturday night, May 17, by hosting the Chicago Sky. The Storm will try to extend its streak to three straight wins on Opening Night, having won two of the last three season openers. After improving by nine wins last season, the team's second of existence, the Chicago Sky will be aiming for a first-ever trip to the playoffs after adding the No. 2 overall pick to a young core including guard Armintie Price and forward Candice Dupree.

May 20 vs. Sacramento
Former Storm assistant Jenny Boucek brings the Monarchs into KeyArena for the first matchup of the season against a Western Conference foe. The Storm and Monarchs own the two longest playoff streaks in the Western Conference, the Storm having made the postseason each of the last four seasons and Sacramento with a five-year run. However, with several key free agents, the Monarchs might have a different look by next May.

May 22 at Phoenix
After starting the season with a pair of games at the Key, the Storm will take to the road for a playoff rematch with the defending WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury. Even before facing each other in the postseason, the Mercury and Storm have enjoyed a friendly rivalry that builds on the friendships on both sides - former UConn teammates Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi are both spending their second consecutive off-season playing with the Storm's Lauren Jackson for Spartak in Russia.

June 7 vs. Detroit
To win the WNBA title, the Mercury had to knock off the Detroit Shock in a hard-fought WNBA Finals that went the full five games. That prevented the Shock from repeating as champions, but Head Coach Bill Laimbeer and company will be looking to reclaim the trophy in 2008. With four starters becoming free agents, Laimbeer could look to change up Detroit's lineup in an effort to get back to the pinnacle.

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June 11 vs. Phoenix
The Mercury makes the first of two visits to Seattle in early June (the other, on July 10, will be the Storm's annual noon tip for Kids Day). If you like seeing offense, this is not a game to miss. Last year, the Storm set a franchise record for scoring in both KeyArena matchups with Phoenix, scoring a combined 211 points in the two victories.

June 20 vs. Indiana
The Fever named the Storm's first head coach, Lin Dunn, to the same position yesterday after three years as an assistant, so this will be Dunn's first trip back to the Key as a head coach. Dunn will try to get the Fever past the Shock, which has ended Indiana's season in the playoffs each of the last two years. The Fever has made the Eastern Conference Finals twice in three years, but has yet to break through and get to the league's biggest stage.

July 3 vs. New York
What better opponent for Independence Day Eve than the Liberty? A new, young lineup brought New York back to the postseason in 2007 and the Liberty gave Detroit everything the Shock could handle in the playoffs, taking the best-of-three series the distance, including OT in Game 3. Most Improved Player Janel McCarville and promising young point guard Loree Moore are two of the New York players making their only trip to the Pacific Northwest.


Lisa Leslie will be back on the court in 2008.
Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty
July 12 vs. Los Angeles
The Sparks are one of two Western Conference teams who will play in Seattle just once (San Antonio is the other), adding extra intensity to what has long been one of the WNBA's best rivalries. Lisa Leslie missed the entire 2007 season after giving birth to daughter Lauren, making it a long year for Los Angeles, but Leslie is back on the court. She'll be joined in the lineup by the No. 1 overall pick, which should put the Sparks right back into contention in the West.

Sep. 12 vs. Atlanta
The expansion Atlanta franchise, as yet unnamed, will wrap up the Storm's KeyArena schedule on Friday night, Sep. 12. In addition to getting your first look at the WNBA's 14th team, the night will also serve as a chance to thank Storm fans for their support all season long.

Sep. 14 at Los Angeles
The Storm will close out the 2008 regular season with a Sunday afternoon matinee at the STAPLES Center. The game could have ramifications on the Western Conference playoff picture as the third of three matchups between the Storm and Sparks. In 2007, the Storm swept the season series 4-0, the first time in franchise history winning four games against one opponent in the regular season.