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WNBA playoff predictions: With Breanna Stewart potentially out, will Storm be able to survive?

Percy Allen, The Seattle Times on

Published in Basketball

SEATTLE — Admittedly, the Storm isn't necessarily sprinting toward the WNBA playoffs considering its 5-6 record after the Olympic break precipitated a slide from first to fourth in the standings.

Certainly, not like last year when Seattle won seven of its final eight regular-season games before plowing through the postseason with six straights wins, including a 33-point romp in Game 5 of the WNBA Finals to claim a fourth championship for the franchise.

In 2018, the Storm won eight of its final nine regular-season games and in 2010 Seattle was 6-2 in its final eight regular-season games before claiming championships.

You have to go all the way back to 2004 to find an example of a Storm team that stumbled into the playoffs and still finished the season with hardware. That year, Seattle posted a 3-6 record in its final nine regular-season games

"Trying to draw parallels and comparisons between those championship teams is difficult because obviously, the players are different and not only that there are so many things that make those seasons and challenges particularly unique," said guard Sue Bird who was an integral component to the Storm's four championship teams. "What I will say is I thought we were on our way to becoming a little more consistent in our play and then we lose Stewie (Breanna Stewart) and now we're scrambling a bit again."

Stewart missed the last two games with a left foot injury and has not played since Sept. 7. The 6-foot-4 forward watched Wednesday's practice at Seattle Pacific University from the sideline and worked individually on shooting drills.

 

Coach Noelle Quinn, who declined to give specifics on the injury, said the Storm plans to re-evaluate Stewart on Friday with the hopes she'll have two days of practice before the team's playoff opener at noon Sunday.

The Storm is 1-4 this season without Stewart, the 2020 and 2018 WNBA Finals MVP.

"The Stewie injury is a tough one," Bird said. "As a player, you're groomed in a lot of ways to roll with what you got and you can't think about what you don't. And at the same time, I have moments when I'm like not having the MVP of the league is really hard. I think we're in as good of a spot as we can be without the MVP. As an athlete you're told no excuses and ... the fact of the matter is, we have to fill a huge hole and everybody is going to have to step up."

Not coincidentally, All-Star guard Jewell Loyd had her three highest-scoring games of the season when Stewart was out of the lineup.

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