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No WNBA team has repeated as champion since 2002, but the Seattle Storm believe they are in good position to do so.

The Storm begin the defense of their title as they host the Phoenix Mercury on Saturday night in a rematch of last year's Western Conference finals.

Seattle ran away with the conference's regular season title, finishing 13 games ahead of second-place Phoenix. The Storm won their final three regular season games and went 7-0 in the playoffs, sweeping the Mercury in a best-of-three series in the West finals before defeating Atlanta to win their second league title and first since 2004.

Seattle was led by Lauren Jackson, who won her third MVP award after averaging 20.5 points and 8.3 rebounds during the regular season.

Only two franchises have won consecutive championships in the WNBA's first 14 seasons - Los Angeles in 2001-02 and the now-defunct Houston Comets winning the league's first four titles.

"We don't talk about it, but that doesn't mean you guys won't bring it up and ask; people from the outside will ask," coach Brian Agler told the Storm's official website. "From our approach, it's a totally new year and our desire is to play for this season."

After their last championship, the Storm failed to make it out of the first round for five straight years before 2010's championship run. However, unlike after their last title when the team made some roster changes, this year's club brings back all five starters and added some scoring off the bench with the acquisition of Katie Smith, who averaged 9.5 points and 2.6 assists for Washington last season.

While Jackson was fourth in the league in scoring last year, the Storm relied heavily on their defense, holding teams to 73.9 points per game.

"We had a lot of lessons last year. Obviously, we saw that if we work together and stick to the game plan, and everyone plays their role within our system, it works, and it can produce a championship at the end," forward Swin Cash said. "Hopefully, we're individually a little bit better and that will translate into collectively as a team."

The Mercury, who won the title in 2009, have led the league in scoring in each of the last five seasons. Diana Taurasi won her fourth scoring title in that stretch by averaging 22.6 points last season.

However, Phoenix's focus in the offseason was improving its defense after giving up a league-worst 93.8 points per game. The Mercury ranked fourth in rebounding (35.7), but gave up a league-high 37.7 per game and were last in steals (7.0).

Phoenix's biggest offseason move was bringing in Nakia Sanford, who averaged 6.0 points and 4.2 rebounds with Washington last year.

Besides the playoff series loss, the Mercury dropped all five regular season meetings against the Storm. Jackson had two 30-point performances against them.

"I think it's good," Penny Taylor said of facing the Storm in the season opener. "It's definitely a measuring stick to see where you are and how well we've prepared. ... They're defending champions, so obviously they're going to come in with a lot of confidence."

The Mercury play six of their first eight games on the road.

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