Elena Delle Donne starts for Mystics despite herniated disk

Oct 6, 2019

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. — Washington Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne and guard Ariel Atkins started Sunday’s Game 3 of the WNBA Finals. Both had been listed as questionable because of back issues. Both participated in pregame warm-ups.

Delle Donne, the league MVP, was limited to just over 3 minutes of playing time before leaving Game 2, which the Connecticut Sun won 99-87 on Tuesday in Washington.

Delle Donne, 30, had an MRI on Wednesday, and has been receiving treatment since then. She had averaged 21.4 points and 7.6 rebounds in the first five games of the playoffs before the back injury forced her out early on Tuesday, when she was scoreless.

The Mystics have outscored the Sun by 12 points with Delle Donne on the court in the WNBA Finals, and they have been outscored by 15 when she’s off the court.

Saturday, Mystics coach Mike Thibault said he was not expecting Delle Donne or Atkins to play Sunday. Atkins, who hurt her back leaning over on Thursday, had been dealing with back spasms.

Part of the Mystics’ plan for Delle Donne is to have her go back to the locker room during the game to stretch out and get some treatment rather than sitting on the bench.

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