Seattle Storm forward Gabby Williams has not traveled with the team and is out of Game 1 of the semifinals against the Las Vegas Aces due to a concussion. Best-of-five series begins in Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon at 4 pm ET.
Williams suffered the injury in Game 2 of the Storm’s first-round series with the Washington Mystics on August 21. Early in the third quarter of that game, Williams crashed through the offensive glass and was inadvertently elbowed by Mystics forward Shakira Austin. Although he seemed innocuous enough at the time, Williams ran across the floor clutching his head and left a minute later. He did not return to the game and has since remained in the concussion protocol.
“It changes us to have another playmaker on the floor, and who we can put defensively in multiple people,” said Storm head coach Noelle Quinn. “She changes a lot, honestly. Gabby has been playing at a high level and we’ve relied a lot on her athleticism, her defense, her court. She’s a very smart basketball player and she’s comfortable in our system. “.
“Gabby has been doing everything on the floor for us. But what our team has is championship-level experience with all of our players. We’ll rely on that.”
Williams often slips under the radar on a Storm team with four former No. 1 overall picks, but he has been vital to their success since arriving in an offseason trade. She’s a potential All-Defensive honoree, and her ability on that side of the ball proved crucial in this series against the most electric offense in the league. But as Quinn pointed out, it’s not just Williams’ defense that the Storm will lose. Williams is an excellent athlete and secondary playmaker who can exploit the attention other teams are forced to pay to the likes of Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd.
As of now, it’s unclear when or if Williams will return. He has been in concussion protocol for a week, but brain injuries affect everyone differently. If there’s one silver lining for Storm, it’s that the first three games of the semifinals are spread out. Game 3 in Seattle isn’t until Sunday, September 4, which would be two full weeks after Williams was injured.
Meanwhile, Storm will rely on veterans Briann January and Stephanie Talbot, depending on whether they want to stay small or big. January struggled this season, but she’s been an elite defender throughout her career and could help slow down the Aces’ perimeter attack. Meanwhile, Talbot is a much better shooter than Williams or January, and she would offer a different dimension to the offense.