The defending champion Seattle Storm will be without star forward Breanna Stewart for the remainder of the regular season due to a foot injury, the team announced. Stewart's status for the postseason is to be determined, and she will be re-evaluated prior to the playoffs.
During the third quarter of the Storm's win over the Washington Mystics earlier this week, Stewart was boxing out Erica McCall and came up hobbled. It was difficult to tell exactly what transpired, but it was clear that Stewart was in some serious pain as she left the game.
Even now, there's little clarity on Stewart's actual injury aside from the fact that it's a foot problem. The only bit of insight we got was veteran point guard Sue Bird telling the media that Stewart gave an "uh oh" look when she left the court against the Mystics. Now, we know why.
Stewart's injury is just the latest in what has been a disappointing few weeks for the Storm. They entered the Olympic break in first place, but have gone just 4-5 since play resumed to fall into third place. Their chances of getting a top-two seed at this point were already extremely slim, and are now even more so with Stewart out for the final two regular season games.
A top-two seed, of course, comes with a bye to the semifinals and allows teams to avoid the single-elimination arounds altogether. Missing out on that was always going to make the Storm's attempt at a repeat more difficult, but they really must regret some of these recent losses now.
Without knowing the type of injury or the severity, it's impossible to say right now if Stewart will be able to return for the postseason. However, the fact that the team has not already ruled her out and are going to re-evaluate in a few weeks means she must at least have a chance.
The playoffs begin on Sept. 23, though the Storm are unlikely to be participating in the first round -- the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds get a bye to the second round. Exact playoff dates are not out, but the second round would likely be two days later, which means the Storm will likely play their first playoff game on or around Sept. 25. That gives Stewart two-plus weeks to get back, and potentially longer if the Storm get through that game without her.
Regardless, the Storm's chances of winning their third title in four years and becoming the first repeat winners since the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001 and 2002 just got a lot more difficult.