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Fever top Phoenix to lock up playoff berth

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With a solid win over the team that denied them a WNBA championship last year, the Indiana Fever have clinched a berth in the 2010 WNBA playoffs. The team achieved the best record in the Eastern Conference with consecutive victories over the Phoenix Mercury and Connecticut Sun recently.

Setting a franchise scoring record, the Fever bested the Mercury 110-90, and then dispatched the Sun 79-66 to achieve 21-10 record, the best in the Eastern Conference. Phoenix denied Indiana the league championship in October 2009 with a victory over the Fever in the fifth and deciding game of the WNBA Finals.

With their win over Phoenix, the defending Eastern Conference champion Fever have secured their sixth straight playoff berth and their seventh in franchise history. With five 20-win seasons in the past six years, the Fever became just the third team in WNBA history to boast such a streak.

The WNBA playoffs begin Aug. 25. Indiana owns a run of six straight seasons in the WNBA playoffs and seven overall from 2002 to 2010. As the conference champion, Indiana advanced to the WNBA Finals for the first time in franchise history last season. The Fever have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals on three occasions – 2005, 2007 and 2009.

Indiana’s 21-10 record after beating Phoenix was the second-best in the WNBA, and was within reach of the club’s best records for wins. Indiana won 21 games in each of 2006, 2007 and 2008. In addtion, the Fever won a franchise-record 22 games in 2009. The Fever also joined the Houston (1998-’03) and Los Angeles (1998-’06) franchises as the only teams ever to record five 20-win seasons in a six-year span. The Fever and Seattle Storm are the only WNBA teams with active streaks of at least six straight playoff seasons. The Storm has seven.

The Eastern Conference semifinals is a three-game series beginning on Aug. 25 or Aug. 26. If the Fever finishes first or second in the conference, Indiana will clinch home-court advantage in the opening series. If that occurs, they would host the first playoff game and travel to their opponent’s arena for the second game. A potential game three would take place in Indianapolis on Aug. 29 or Aug. 30.

The Eastern Conference Finals is also a three-game series, to be played on Sept. 2, Sept. 5, and if necessary, Sept. 8. The WNBA Finals start Sept. 12. Final seeding, pairings, dates and times will not be determined until the conclusion of the regular season, Aug. 22.

Tickets for the Eastern Conference semifinals (round one, home game one) are on sale now. Ticket prices begin at $11 and are available at FeverBasketball.com, the Conseco Fieldhouse Box Office and all Ticketmaster outlets.

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