Elena Delle Donne of Washington Mystics says she’ll play in Game 4 despite back injury

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Updated: October 7, 2019



4:03 PM ET

Mechelle VoepelespnW.com

CloseMechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering women’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — The Washington Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne acknowledges she’s in a lot of pain from the herniated disk in her back, but she expects to play in Tuesday’s Game 4 of the WNBA Finals.

“I’m going,” she said with a smile at the Mystics’ media availability Monday at Mohegan Sun Arena. “I’m feeling OK. Trying to do all the treatment possible today. I’m hoping I’ll feel better than [Sunday], but you really never know.

“It hurts bad; I feel like I’m playing with a pole up my back. Just very straight up and can’t move. It’s just push through, do whatever I can, be on the court, bring confidence, bring spacing.”

Delle Donne did that in Sunday’s Game 3, getting 13 points and six rebounds while playing 26 minutes in the Mystics’ 94-81 victory over the Connecticut Sun that gave them a 2-1 series lead. They are one victory away from the franchise’s first WNBA title, which also would be Delle Donne’s first.

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“You know it’s there, but I think the biggest thing is just staying on the attack,” she said of being that close to a title. “Sometimes when something that big is there, you kind of just play not to lose. But I know the importance of us needing to put them on their heels right away.”

And despite the discomfort, Delle Donne was in good spirits Monday, joking that by now she’s used to being hurt during the WNBA Finals. While with Chicago, she dealt with a back injury in 2014 when the Sky fell to Phoenix, and had a bone bruise to her knee last year when the Mystics were swept by Seattle.

She said sleeping is a challenge, but she’s been trying to rest. During Game 3, she left the court a few times when subbed out to have her back worked on by a physical therapist. She never sat on the Mystics’ bench, standing behind it instead.

Delle Donne had to choose her spots as to when to shoot and also how to defend.

“Being smart, picking your angles, really trying to use my length,” the 6-foot-5 Delle Donne said. “It’s frustrating as hell, but I know I can do it. I can push through it and figure it out when the season’s over and rest then.”



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