Storm still battling injuries, illness
Storm star Sue Bird is listed as day-to-day for Seattle's game Saturday against Los Angeles.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Los Angeles @ Storm,
The Storm began the season wanting to make playoff history. Now the team is just trying to stay healthy.
Point guard Sue Bird is the latest to leave the lineup. She began to feel stomach flu symptoms Thursday and left the Storm's 72-58 win over Phoenix in the second quarter. She did not practice Friday.
Bird is listed as day-to-day for Saturday's matchup against Los Angeles at KeyArena. If Bird is unable to start, Svetlana Abrosimova will replace her.
"Man, she's just a champ," Storm forward Camille Little said of Bird, who pushed herself to play after returning from the London Olympic Games. "I hope she's getting better. We'll see what happens."
Before Thursday's game, Bird talked postseason implications. The Storm (10-10) is fourth in the Western Conference with 14 games remaining. With Phoenix (4-16) and Tulsa (3-16) floundering, Seattle should clinch a ninth consecutive playoff berth. It would be a WNBA record, surpassing Los Angeles.
But seeding becomes an issue. The Storm is 0-4 against the Sparks. Saturday is the last of their five matchups this season. Los Angeles (15-6) is third in the West.
Seattle is 1-2 against defending champion Minnesota (16-4) with one game remaining against the Lynx Tuesday. If the playoffs started today, the Lynx would be the Storm's first-round opponent.
San Antonio (14-5) is second in the West, and even with Seattle (1-1) this season. The teams play two more games.
"We'd love to move up," said Bird, whose team has rallied since beginning the season 1-7. "We're pretty far behind. Those teams aren't going to just relax and be happy with where they are because they're jockeying for position like we are.
"The way I view the second half of the season is, we're going to get Lauren (Jackson) back pretty soon. From there it will be about focusing on ourselves. Would I love to finish first? Yeah. Will that happen? I don't know what the odds are, but they're not in our favor."
Injuries are working against the Storm. If Bird doesn't play Saturday, she would join center Ann Wauters on the bench. Wauters is rehabilitating a tear in her Achilles. Jackson isn't expected to rejoin the team until Monday, after playing in the Olympics for her native Australia.
Forward Tina Thompson returned Thursday after suffering a left knee and ankle sprain. She played 15 minutes, finishing with eight points and four rebounds.
"With our team and the injuries that we've had, how the season has been going, it's very important our bench continues to play well," Little said. "They're growing as young players, getting confidence. They're playing really well for us, and it's really helping."
Until the vets get healthy, is it enough to boost the Storm's playoff chances?
"Sometimes it's just about peaking at the right time," Bird said. "Getting Lauren back and peaking in the playoffs — that to me would make for a very good season because at that point, anything can happen."
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org