With two of their stars’ status up in the air for Game 3 of the WNBA Finals on Sunday, Washington Mystics coach and general manager Mike Thibault is keeping things simple.
He’s assuming neither Elena Delle Donne nor guard Ariel Atkins will be available to play against the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena.
“I’m counting on them not playing,” Thibault said, via the Washington Post. “I can’t say anything more than what [Delle Donne] already has. She has a herniated disk that’s pinching her nerve. She’s made some progress but she’s not at the point as of today to play basketball. She could get up tomorrow and test it out and shee where she is and we’ll leave it as day-to-day, but the reality is, I don’t know any more than that.”
Delle Donne, the league’s MVP, left Game 2 of the series in the first quarter with back spasms, and did not return. The team announced on Wednesday that an MRI revealed she suffered a “small disc herniation.”
Per Thibault, Delle Donne has simply received treatment all week since the injury, not participating much in practice at all.
“She has not done anything athletic all week other than lay on the table and get treatment and do whatever else you can do with physical therapy,” Thibault said, via the Washington Post.
Atkins, on the other hand, suffered her back injury on Thursday night — one that was a surprise to the team. The 23-year-old has averaged 10.3 points and 2.8 rebounds per game this season, her second in the league, and dropped 21 points in their Game 1 win last Sunday.
“Basically, just one of those ones, stood over, stood up — couldn’t stand up,” Thibault said, via the Washington Post.
Whether the pair play on Sunday or not, Thibault knows it doesn’t matter.
The Suns won’t take it easy on them just because two of their starters are sidelined, especially in a WNBA Finals series that’s tied up 1-1.
“Nobody else is going to feel sorry for us, so go play,” Thibault said, via the Washington Post. “That’s the way it is, life deals you certain things, you go deal with it, play the hardest you can, and if you walk out of the arena tomorrow and you’ve played the best you can play, as hard as you can play, then you live with whatever happens. I’m okay with that.”
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