Elena Delle Donne’s triumphant return from a two-year absence due to a back injury was marred by a 75-68 Mystics loss to the Seattle Storm on Sunday. Washington dropped to 8-14 on the season with the loss and remains out of a WNBA playoff spot.
Delle Donne, who had been out for 682 days with back problems and her ongoing battle with Lyme Disease during the WNBA bubble last August, made her first appearance for Washington since celebrating the team’s 2019 championship.
She performed well in her first outing back, scoring 16 points on the day in 22 minutes of action, going 5-11 from the field and hitting all five of her free throws.
However, things turned sour for the Mystics after jumping out to an early 11-2 lead. Seattle, the defending WNBA champion, stormed back to take the lead by 10 at halftime, and although Washington made it interesting down the stretch, a Breanna Stewart double-double (team-highs with 20 points and 12 rebounds) put the game away for the visitors.
For the Mystics, it was another disappointing game. There is still hope, however, even after four straight losses since the return from the Tokyo Olympic break. The next two games are at home against the two teams directly in front of them - the Los Angeles Sparks and two against the Dallas Wings.
With just 10 games to go, those could prove pivotal if Washington wants to make the playoffs. The league's top eight teams qualify and it currently sits 10th - one game behind Dallas (10-14) and 1 1/2 behind Los Angeles (10-13). The Mystics have a game in hand on the Sparks and two in hand on the Wings so there's still time.
Washington has lost eight out of its last nine overall dating to before the Olympic break. The Mystics also have two games with Minnesota (14-9), a road game at Seattle (18-7) and a game at No. 1 seed Connecticut (17-6). But the Mystics also have winnable games against New York (11-14), Chicago (11-12) and Atlanta (6-17).