While recent off-court issues have clouded over both the Seattle Storm and Atlanta Dream, they're still in the "Wubble" of the IMG Academy to play basketball.
Likely again minus two key contributors, the Storm aim for a third consecutive victory while trying to send the socially conscious Dream to three losses in a row on Thursday night in Bradenton, Fla.
Seattle (4-1) is among the top teams in the WNBA at the moment. That's mainly because stars Breanna Stewart (18.8 points per game, 8.4 rebounds per game, 3.2 assists per game) and Sue Bird (10.7 ppg, 3.3 apg) are back in the mix. However, Bird is dealing with a bone bruise in left knee and is day to day after sitting out Tuesday's 87-74 win over Connecticut.
"It's basically day to day," Bird told ESPN. "That's where I'm at. Lucky our team is in position to withstand a player going out."
Make that two players.
ESPN also reports that key reserve Epiphanny Prince (3.0 ppg) has left the confines of the "Wubble" due to personal reasons. While the Storm did not give a time table for Prince's absence, she would need to quarantine upon her return to IMG Academy.
Without both players, Stewart scored 22 points and the Storm went 11 of 21 from beyond the 3-point arc against the Sun. Seattle ranks among the top 3-point shooting teams at 35.9 percent for game.
Atlanta (2-3), meanwhile, ranks among the worst teams in the league allowing opponents to hit 35.8 percent of their shots from distance. The Dream also happen to be one of the league's lower-scoring teams averaging 82.0 points.
They've even failed to reach 80 points while losing each of their last two contests. Most recently, 81-74 to surging Phoenix on Tuesday. Rookie Chennedy Carter had 26 points while Betnijah Laney added 17 with seven rebounds and five assists, but the Dream committed 23 turnovers and were outscored 32-19 in the fourth quarter.
"We did so many things well, but you will not win in the WNBA turning the ball over 23 times," coach Nicki Collen told the Dream's official website. "This one was tough because I don't think we got outplayed. I think we gave this one to them."
However, the most prominent headline involving Atlanta is WNBA players wearing shirts that read "Vote Warnock" in reference to supporting Rev. Raphael Warnock in his U.S. Senate race against Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.). The latter has been an outspoken critic of the league publicly and prominently embracing the Black Lives Matter movement. Players from both the Dream and Storm have come out in support of Warnock's campaign.
Carter, a vocal supporter of Warnock and BLM, and Laney each lead the team averaging 17.4 points.