Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press
The WNBA announced Tuesday a playoff semifinals series between the Minnesota Lynx and Seattle Storm will begin Tuesday night.
“The health and safety of all players and staff continue to be our top priority,” Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement. “After comprehensive consultation with health and safety specialists following the additional testing of Seattle’s players and staff as well as the implementation of contact tracing, we feel confident in moving forward with the Storm and Lynx taking the court for Game 1 of their Semifinals series. We are closely monitoring the situation and are coordinating with medical specialists.”
Seattle enters as the favorite after finishing alongside the Las Vegas Aces with the best record (18-4) during the regular season. The Aces earned the No. 1 playoff seed by virtue of two head-to-head wins against the Storm.
The Storm won their two regular-season matchups with the Lynx by a combined 39 points.
Minnesota’s Sylvia Fowles and Lexie Brown are injured. On Saturday, the team listed Fowles as questionable with a calf injury. Brown is in the WNBA’s concussion protocol and left the league’s IMG Academy campus.
Lynx forward Napheesa Collier placed fifth in MVP voting, and Crystal Dangerfield won Rookie of the Year honors. Cheryl Reeve earned her third Coach of the Year nod, a testament to how she has maximized what is a limited roster by the Lynx’s usual standards.
The Storm, on the other hand, might be the deepest team in the WNBA.
Breanna Stewart was the runner-up to league MVP A’ja Wilson after averaging 19.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. Alysha Clark continues to live up to her reputation as one of the game’s best perimeter defenders. Jewell Loyd set career highs in field-goal percentage (44.3) and three-point percentage (39.0) while posting her best defensive rating (92.3), per WNBA.com.
As if that’s not enough, the second unit of Sami Whitcomb, Ezi Magbegor, Mercedes Russell and Jordin Canada keeps opponents at bay when the starters are off the floor.
In a five-game series, though, winning Game 1 would go a long way toward the Lynx springing an upset.