Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne ‘close’ to 100% for Game 5 of WNBA Finals

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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.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — There’s just one day left in the WNBA season, and Washington’s Elena Delle Donne said she feels pretty good heading into the decisive Game 5 of the WNBA Finals against the Connecticut Sun on Thursday night.

“I was in here and able to move,” Delle Donne said after the Mystics’ shootaround Thursday morning at Entertainment and Sports Arena. “We’ve got our entire playbook back. It’s no more just me standing in the corner and hoping that works.”

The Mystics face the Connecticut Sun on Thursday with the WNBA title on the line (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET).

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Delle Donne, the 2019 WNBA MVP, missed all but the first 3.5 minutes of Game 2 on Oct. 1 with what was diagnosed the next day as a herniated disk in her back.

She played 26 minutes of the Mystics’ 94-81 victory in Game 3 on Sunday, but the 6-foot-5 Delle Donne stayed mostly on the perimeter and said she felt she wasn’t moving well at all. She scored 13 points and had six rebounds in the win.

In Tuesday’s Game 4, she had 11 points and 5 rebounds while playing 30 minutes in a 90-86 loss. Delle Donne said she felt she moved better then, but still didn’t have her usual elevation, which was evident on a late jump shot.

“I’m hoping tonight I’ll have my lift under me,” Delle Donne said Thursday. “I don’t know if I will fully. But I’m going to try to attack.”

Compared to Sunday, even with Wednesday’s flight back from Connecticut, Delle Donne said she felt “a lot better.”

“I knew I wouldn’t get to 100%,” she said, “but I think I’m as close as I can possibly be now. I couldn’t move in Game 3. So thank goodness my teammates stepped up and played so well. I think it almost threw a curveball at Connecticut, with me not moving. Then they figured it out in Game 4.

“Now, we’ll be able to get back to our offense. More than anything, we need to get back to our pace.”

Delle Donne said a combination of physical therapy treatment and medication has helped. And despite the injury, she shot a combined 10-of-14 from the field in Games 3 and 4.

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