The defending champion Seattle Storm entered the Olympic break in first place, but things haven't gone to plan since play resumed. They're just 4-5 since the restart, which has dropped them to third place, and star forward Breanna Stewart left Tuesday night's win over the Washington Mystics with a foot injury and did not return.
In the middle of the third quarter, Stewart was boxing out Erica McCall and came up hobbling. The broadcast came back from a stoppage too late to really catch what happened live, and even on the replay (which you can see at the end of the video below), it's not entirely clear.
The most noticeable contact is McCall's knee hitting the back of Stewart's leg, but how that affected the foot is hard to say. While she was able to leave the court under her own power, Stewart was clearly in a good deal of discomfort as she talked with the medical staff and went down into the tunnel.
Following the game, head coach Noelle Quinn offered only that the team is "waiting to get further evaluation." At this point, it's too early to tell how severe the injury might be, but one worrying note was Sue Bird's comment that Stewart gave an "uh-oh" look as she left the game.
Stewart missed the entire 2019 season with a torn right Achilles tendon, so she does have some experience with lower leg pain. This injury is to her left foot, however, and the fact that she was able to walk away means it's not that severe. Still, we won't know just how bad it is until she's able to undergo an X-ray and MRI.
Both Stewart and the Storm will be holding their breath until they get the results of those imaging tests. She's not only the team's best player on both sides of the ball, but one of the league's best as well. At 20.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.8 blocks per game, she is once again in the MVP conversation. If she's ruled out for any significant time, that will be a massive blow to the Storm's chances of winning back-to-back titles.
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At 20-10, the Storm are currently in third place with two games remaining. While it's technically possible they could catch the Las Vegas Aces for second place, they'll need a lot of help. The Aces, who have four games left on their schedule, have a one-game lead and own the tiebreaker between the two clubs. That means the Storm would have to beat them outright for that spot -- a tall task with so few games remaining.
The top-two seeds, of course, get an automatic by to the semifinals, while the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds only get a bye to the second round. With the Storm likely headed for a single-elimination game in a few weeks, getting Stewart healthy is even more important.