Not long after 5 p.m. Monday the Seattle Storm released its injury report for their scheduled playoff game with the Lynx on Tuesday:
They had no injuries to report. But it noted:
Additional team COVID-19 testing results pending.
The start of the best-of-five WNBA semifinals between the two teams was postponed Sunday when multiple Storm players had inconclusive COVID-19 tests. As of early evening Monday those tests were still pending. And thus, the rescheduled start of the series slated for Tuesday appeared to be not yet guaranteed.
It is another twist in a shortened, 22-game season that was postponed by the virus and ultimately forced into a bubble at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Since every team got into that bubble in time for the season to start in late July, there have been no reported positive tests.
There have been three prior inconclusive tests: Lindsay Allen (Las Vegas), T’ea Cooper (Los Angeles) and Tyasha Harris (Dallas) all missed a game while waiting for results of a retest. In each case they tested negative and were allowed to return to play.
But the threat of the virus, as WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a televised interview Sunday, is always there. No matter how many negative tests there have been, each day the league resets to zero.
So when the inconclusive tests popped up, the league had no choice to postpone Sunday’s game. When the reschedule time came down late Sunday night, Tuesday’s game, which had slated for 6 p.m. on the original playoff schedule (when it was going to be Game 2 of the series), was moved to 8 p.m. on ESPN2.
How the delay will affect the series is yet to be seen.
As the No. 2 seed, the Storm received a bye into the semifinal round. That means Seattle hasn’t played since losing to top-seeded Las Vegas in the regular-season finale Sept. 13. The opener of the series with the Lynx would be the Storm’s first game in eight days. The team would be rested, but would it be rusty?
The Lynx secured the fourth seed, receiving a bye into the second round of the playoff. That meant they had four days in between games before beating Phoenix in the second round of the playoffs Thursday. The postponement — which came on coach Cheryl Reeve’s birthday — gave the Lynx an extra day of rest, for a total of four days off.
That could mitigate the extra rest the top two seeds normally get. Tuesday’s game would be only the second for the Lynx in 10 days.
The Lynx did not practice Monday and had no media access. It’s not clear whether the extra rest would give center Sylvia Fowles any more chance to let her calf heal. Fowles, held out of the final 13 regular season games with a right calf injury, started against Phoenix, but felt a tightness in the calf in the third quarter. She left the game and did not return as the Lynx rallied for a one-point victory.
If Fowles were unable to play, Bridget Carleton would return to the starting lineup.