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Elena Delle Donne ranks this year's back injury as worse than last year's knee injury

Elena Delle Donne ranks this year's back injury as worse than last year's knee injury

For the second straight year, Elena Delle Donne is battling a tough injury as the Washington Mystics are attempting to claim their first WNBA title. 

Last year she had to play through a bone bruise in her left knee. This year it is a herniated disc in her back.

Delle Donne played through the pain last year and is doing the same this season as she made it onto the court for Game 3. However, that is where the similarities stop for the 2019 WNBA MVP. 

"This (injury) hurts more," Delle Donne said to reporters on Monday. "Knees, I feel like they're achy. They hurt but you can push through them. Backs, it's like you take one bad step and it feels like your paralyzed. This is worse."

While it was in a losing effort to the Storm in 2018, it was a matter of how much pain that the 6-5 guard/ forward could tolerate. In the three games of those Finals, she played 99 of the possible 120 minutes. Fifteen of those were missed in Game 1 when she was given rest after the Mystics were getting blown out.

This go-around is not pain management. It's literally what can Delle Donne physically do on the court. For anyone that watched Game 3 on Sunday, it is evident that she is a shell of herself with her back pain. Delle Donne was regulated to being a spot-up shooter, aside from one drive late in the fourth quarter and a loose ball tussle in the first half. When she wasn't playing, she was taken off the bench and away from the court to stretch and stay loose. 

She's proven she is a warrior. This is her third injury of the 2019 season. Delle Donne is doing whatever she can to win her first championship. 

Game 4 is on Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. ET in Connecticut. The Mystics lead the best-of-five series 2-1. 

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Isaiah Thomas expected to miss several more games due to calf injury

Isaiah Thomas expected to miss several more games due to calf injury

WASHINGTON -- Isaiah Thomas has missed the Wizards' last two games with a left calf strain and it sounds like he will be out at least a little while longer.

The Wizards guard caught up with NBC Sports Washington at his holiday toy giveaway at the Boys and Girls Club in Northwest D.C. on Saturday and gave an update on how he's feeling.

"I'm good," he said. "I think I will be out a few more games and then be able to come back."

Thomas nearly played on Thursday in the Wizards' home win over the Sixers, according to head coach Scott Brooks. He pleaded with the coaching staff to play, but was advised not to as a precaution.

Thomas categorized the injury in a similar way, that the team is just playing it safe.

"I always feel like I can play, but the medical staff wants to be cautious about it, knowing it's a long season. There's a bigger picture and I'm just listening to whatever they've got to say," he said.

Thomas, 30, is enjoying a career renaissance of sorts with the Wizards. He is averaging 12.6 points and 5.1 assists while shooting 41 percent from three on 4.9 attempts per game.

With Thomas out, the Wizards have gone 1-1 with Ish Smith in his place in the starting lineup.

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Why Isaiah Thomas brings his kids to help him at charity events

Why Isaiah Thomas brings his kids to help him at charity events

WASHINGTON -- Isaiah Thomas likes to bring his sons with him just about wherever he goes. They walk with him into the Wizards' locker room, they shoot around on the court at Capital One Arena; he's even brought them to the podium for postgame interviews.

On Saturday, Thomas brought one of his sons to the Boys and Girls Club on 8th St. in Northwest Washington and for a specific reason. Thomas wanted him to help give back.

Just as Thomas was handing out toys to underprivileged youth, so was his son. The contrast was not lost on Thomas, who knows his son is well off as the kid of a millionaire NBA player. Not everyone is as fortunate.

"When I can do these types of things, I always want my kids to be around it," Thomas told NBC Sports Washington. 

"To be able to give back and see how blessed we are and how blessed he is and how we can put smiles on peoples' faces, especially around the holidays; it's definitely a point of emphasis to do that and bring my boys around to see it."

Thomas said his father instilled the same lessons in him when he was growing up in Washington state. Every Saturday morning at 6 a.m., his dad would take him to a shelter to serve breakfast to the homeless.

"That was something I was born into doing," Thomas said.

Thomas grew up going to the Boys and Girls Club himself and has partnered with them and World Vision throughout his NBA career to give back. Their efforts nationally have allowed him to continue the relationship no matter which team he has played for.

"Isaiah Thomas has been an amazing partner for World Vision," aid worker Brian Duss said. "Isaiah wasn't even in D.C. four days before he partnered with us at a school in [Southeast] to give away 400 backpacks filled with school supplies."

Before handing out toys and taking pictures with the children, Thomas addressed the crowd with a microphone. He spoke of his experience going to the Boys and Girls Club as a kid and explained the impact he hopes to make in the D.C. community.

"Whatever you need from me, I'm always here for you," he said. "I hope everyone has a happy holidays."

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