Elena Delle Donne’s status for Game 3 of the WNBA Finals still is up in the air after this year’s WNBA MVP exited Game 2 of the Mystics’ best-of-five series against the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday.
An MRI conducted Wednesday revealed a herniated disc in her back, something ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel says has led to Delle Donne receiving “extensive treatment” ahead of Game 3 on Sunday. Washington will update Delle Donne’s status Saturday afternoon, so it’s preparing for any outcome.
Mystics guard Natasha Cloud says Delle Donne is in “good spirits,” but says the team isn’t betting on her future one way or another.
“We have to prepare for Elena to not be in the game. It’s a bonus if she is. We’re extremely hopeful that she will be,” Cloud said Thursday, per Voepel. “But every person, one through 12, has a role on this team and has significance. So we’re extremely capable.”
Head coach Mike Thibault already seems to know how Washington can improve should Delle Donne not take the court.
“We can do some things better; that’s both individual and team pride stuff,” Thibault said, per Voepel. “It’s staying focused on the most important things in order of priority. It’s a little different in preparing for a game like this when you know ahead of time that Elena’s hurt.
“That happened three to four minutes into the game, and it took us a little bit of time to recover from it,” he added. “Responsibilities change, too. I think we’ll have a better mindset just going into the game of what we need to do.”
The Sun, on the other hand, are preparing for any scenario.
“You have to do your due diligence and prepare for both,” Miller said, referring to the Mystics’ lineup structure with and without Delle Donne. “They have a system, a schematic way of playing. And they can plug Emma (Meesseman) into a lot of the same things they plug Elena into. They can still play big with (Tianna) Hawkins, Emma and LaToya Sanders together. So you still have big lineups to prepare for.
“This longer stretch between (Games) 2 and 3 gives us the mindset that Delle Donne will be back and will play,” he noted, per Voepel. “We go in with the anticipation she will be back.”
Tip-off for Game 3 of the WNBA Finals is slated for 3:30 p.m. ET at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports Images