Game on: After delay due to inconclusive COVID-19 tests, Storm and Lynx cleared to play

©The Seattle Times

Game on.

The WNBA semifinals between No. 2 seed Seattle and No. 4 Minnesota will begin 9 p.m. EDT Tuesday in Bradenton, Fla. after a two-day delay due to inconclusive COVID-19 tests from multiple Storm players.

During a Zoom call on Tuesday afternoon, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said three Seattle players returned inconclusive tests that were administered Saturday, which led to the delay of the best-of-five series that was scheduled to start Sunday.

The three Storm players in question received extensive COVID-19 testing and were quarantined to their hotel rooms for two days.

On Monday, the league cleared two players for play, but is still waiting for test results from the third player.

“Two of the three players have returned two negatives 24 hours apart,” Engelbert said. “The other player returned a negative test yesterday and we’re waiting for hopefully a second negative this afternoon to return.”

The league is expected to make an announcement on the Seattle player’s availability before Tuesday’s game.

“I am confident that the league is not going to take any chances when it comes to our safety,” Minnesota second-year forward Napheesa Collier said Tuesday during a Zoom call. “I know that whoever is on the court tonight, they’re 100 percent clear and there’s no worries about that. I do have faith in that.”

Sunday’s postponement is the first time WNBA games have been disrupted due to the coronavirus.

The delay in the start of the semifinals could impact the postseason schedule. Game 2 is Thursday followed by Game 3 on Sunday and Game 4 is planned for Sept. 29. At the moment Game 5 is listed as TBD (to be determined) while the WNBA Finals is set to begin Oct. 2.

Seattle, which finished 18-4 and received a double bye to the semifinals, is considered a heavy favorite against Minnesota (14-8). The Lynx had a bye into the second round and toppled No. 5 Phoenix, 80-79, on Thursday.

The Storm has won six straight games against the Lynx, including a two-game sweep of the regular-season series by an average of 19.5 points.

Seattle won 90-66 in the first meeting on July 28 and claimed a 103-88 victory in the Sept. 6 rematch.

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©2020 The Seattle Times