for this game

Sun-Storm Preview

Aug 26, 2009 - 5:29 PM By MATT BEARDMORE STATS Writer

Connecticut (14-13) at Seattle (16-11), 10:00 p.m. EDT

With one more victory, the Seattle Storm will secure a playoff berth.

They'll get that opportunity Thursday night at KeyArena against a Connecticut Sun team they haven't defeated in four seasons.

Seattle (16-11) won its third straight and maintained its hold on second place in the Western Conference with Tuesday's 78-68 victory over Washington.

Center Janell Burse had 14 points and six rebounds off the bench against the Mystics. She had 14 and seven in a 74-60 win over East-leading Indiana on Saturday.

"She's part of us playing better as a team," Storm coach Brian Agler said. "She's on task defensively, she's rebounding the ball. We would like to get a few more offensive boards from her."

Sue Bird, the league leader in assists at 5.8 per game, had 13 points and five assists versus Washington as Seattle improved to 11-3 at home. The Storm are 6-1 there since losing back-to-back games there July 12 and 15.

"We're closer to clinching a playoff berth - we're also closer to clinching a high spot and home-court advantage," Bird, a former University of Connecticut star, told the Storm's official Web site. "And we of course want to take care of the home court."

Seattle, which trails first-place Phoenix by two games, has lost three straight at home and seven in a row overall to Connecticut since a 95-86 victory at KeyArena on June 22, 2005.

The Sun (14-13), meanwhile, look to rebound from Tuesday's 90-70 loss to Detroit that dropped them into third place in the East. Connecticut had not allowed that many points in a home loss since falling to the Shock 92-88 on July 24, 2007.

"They beat us in just about every phase of the game," Sun coach Mike Thibault said Tuesday. "We didn't do a great job stopping them. I'm disturbed by giving up 90 points."

This contest opens a four-game western swing for the Sun, who will try to snap a three-game slide on the road. Connecticut is 4-8 away from Mohegan Sun Arena.

Sun center Sandrine Gruda, who scored 19 points and grabbed three rebounds Tuesday, is averaging 21.3 and 8.0 in the last three games. Gruda had 14 points and seven rebounds in a 64-53 victory over visiting Seattle on Aug. 13.

Storm center Lauren Jackson had 12 points on 3 of 16 shooting in that game. Jackson is third in the league in scoring with 19.3 points per game.

Seattle looks to win four in a row for the first time since a seven-game run from June 29-July 18, 2008.