September 10, 2021 

Breanna Stewart ruled out for the regular season, playoffs in doubt

For Stewart, this brings an abrupt end to a three-game string of great games, after her sluggish start to post-Olympic-break play

Following her removal from Seattle’s game against Washington on Tuesday, Breanna Stewart will officially miss the Storm’s final two games of the regular season.

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Per the Seattle Storm, Stewart was ruled out Friday evening with an undisclosed left foot injury. And will be re-evaluated before the playoffs. She was hurt in the middle of the third quarter when she landed on her left foot awkwardly while fighting with Mystics big Erica McCall for a rebound. She walked off and down the tunnel with the trainer under her own power, but in clear pain.

At this point, it’s nearly impossible to guess what the exact injury could be. Stewart appeared to land on the inside of her left heel before her crural contact with McCall forced her foot to rotate inwards at an awkward angle as her bodyweight landed on it.

For Stewart, this brings an abrupt end to a three-game string of great games, after her sluggish start to post-Olympic-break play. She’s historically had a little issue with getting back up to game speed after time off. And had likely already locked up an All-WNBA spot with little chance of an individual award, so her missing a couple of regular-season games shouldn’t cost her much.

For Seattle, this could potentially be disastrous. The Storm are technically still alive in the battle for the two-seed. But with them needing the Aces to lose out and themselves win out — their respective opponents being Chicago and Dallas and Phoenix, and Los Angeles and Phoenix — that battle was always uphill.

Only now Seattle might need to look down the standings. Phoenix passes the Storm if it wins their Friday, Sep. 17 game, and — assuming Seattle beats the Sparks and the Mercury lose tomorrow night when they play without Diana Taurasi against Connecticut — will stay ahead if it beats Las Vegas on Sep. 19.

Minnesota can still pass the Storm, too, if it can manage to lose one fewer game than Seattle. With the Lynx facing the Fever three times and closing with the Mystics, the Storm can ill-afford to let anything up across their last two games.

Thankfully for Seattle, those games remain quite winnable, even without one of the couple best players in the world. While a double-bye is still possible but unlikely, the Storm have to be on their A-game now; not maintaining their form from this past Tuesday when they play Los Angeles could mean they face double-elimination in the playoffs.

That’s assuming Stewart returns for those playoffs games. Should her injury be severe enough to require more time missed, Seattle would be ill-advised to hold its breath on a title.

Written by Em Adler

Em Adler (she/they) covers the WNBA at large and college basketball for The Next, with a focus on player development and the game behind the game.

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