Barring a last-minute recovery, injured Breanna Stewart could miss Storm’s playoff game opener

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At the end of Friday’s practice, Breanna Stewart carefully walked the grounds of the Royal Brougham Pavilion at the University of the Pacific in Seattle, stood on one foot near the top of the wrench, and fired shots. long range fire on the edge.

After betting on 30 feet, she turned around and said, “Pay” to the teammates who laughed and traded high-fives with the smiling Storm star.

It was a fun moment, which belied the severity of Stewart’s left foot injury and the dark veil hanging over the reigning WNBA champions just two days before the playoffs started.

After more than two weeks of rehab, the Storm had hoped Stewart would return, but barring a last-minute recovery, the 2020 Finals MVP will miss Sunday’s second round knockout game at 12 p.m. PT between the lead. seed 4 Seattle and the fifth-seeded Phoenix Mercury at the Angel of the Winds Arena.

“I don’t think it’s a setback more than being strategic and taking our time,” said coach Noelle Quinn. “This is what was communicated to me.

“So we will continue his rehabilitation and re-evaluate again tomorrow. We are currently in a daily process.

Stewart hasn’t played or practiced since injuring her left foot in the third quarter of the 105-71 win over the Washington Mystics on September 7.

Quinn was vague about specific details regarding the injury and said Stewart is under the supervision of “his team” of coaches and medics who consult with Storm medical staff.

“I am very comfortable with her team and the work they do,” Quinn said. “I trust them to assess her and make that decision when she’s ready to go.”

When asked if Stewart could play on Sunday, Quinn replied, “There’s a chance. We will see tomorrow how she feels and how she looks.

Quinn still thinks Stewart would need at least some practice before putting her in a game.

“I just think you have to spend time on the pitch as a team setting to get pushed around and make sure you’re okay,” said Quinn. “When you’ve been out for as long as she has, I don’t know if you can just flip a switch and get back in.”

Since beating Phoenix 94-85 in its regular season finale last Friday, the Storm have prepared as if Stewart, who missed the last two regular season games, wouldn’t be available on Sunday.

Last week Quinn said she was hopeful that Stewart would be able to return “at some point during the playoffs” and a few days ago Sue Bird spoke about the adjustments Seattle needs to make without her caliber star. MVP.

“It’s a team effort and we’ve shown it in the last two games leading up to the playoffs,” said backup playmaker Jordin Canada. “Everyone contributes… everyone engages and that’s what you want going into the playoffs. As much as Stewie will be missed, everyone knows it’s a next man mentality and everyone needs to do a little bit more.

In 2019, the Storm toppled Minnesota 84-74 in a first-round knockout playoff game without Stewart, who missed that year as he recovered from a tear in Achilles.

“There are still a lot of players on this team who have been in that position of winning or coming home,” said Canada, who finished with a career-high 26 points, four assists and two. steals in the 2019 playoff win over the Lynx is arguably the biggest game of his WNBA career. “We understand that even if we don’t have Stewie, we can still sink and keep playing. It’s about movement and playing with and for each other. We have a strong body group that have been together for a few years and the beauty of this team is that everyone is interchangeable. ”

Stewart’s absence elevates Ezi Magbegor to the starting XI. In last week’s victory over Phoenix, the sophomore center finished with 15 points on 6-for-10 shots, six rebounds, four assists, two seals and one block in 34 minutes.

“The next woman’s mindset can’t play outside of yourself,” Quinn said. “The next woman gets a few more bounces. Do what you normally do, but do it with a different level of urgency.

“We will be leaning heavily on Jewell (Loyd) and Sue. Piph (Epiphanny Prince) can get a bucket. We’ll have to get Jordin down and get into the track. So it may sound a little different, but the urgency of the matter is enormous. ”

Canada added: “Until we get beaten we are the defending champions and we have to play like that in the playoffs and on Sunday. ”

REMARK:

– All-star goaltender Jewell Loyd missed Friday’s practice for personal reasons, coach Noelle Quinn said.

– It’s unclear if Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi will perform on Sunday. She missed Thursday’s 83-82 win over No.8 New York in the first round of the WNBA playoffs with an ankle injury that forced her to miss the last four games.

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