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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