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Elena Delle Donne’s back injury is bad news, but the Mystics can still overcome from it

The 2019 WNBA MVP and Washington Mystics superstar will not be at full strength for the rest of the Finals due to a small herniated disc in her back.

2019 WNBA Finals - Game Two
Elena Delle Donne won’t be at full strength for the rest of the 2019 WNBA season.
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

On Wednesday evening, the Washington Mystics announced that Elena Delle Donne has a small herniated disc in her back after an MRI was performed in the morning. Delle Donne had back spasms in the first quarter of the Mystics’ 99-87 loss to the Connecticut Sun in Game 2 of the 2019 WNBA Finals.

This isn’t good news for the Mystics, who are 1-1 in their series against the Sun. It certainly gives Connecticut more momentum with Game 3 on Sunday afternoon in Uncasville, Conn.

But the Mystics are far from finished. They are the deepest team in the WNBA for a reason. And I think they’re still winning this series in five games. So here are three things the Mystics should focus on to win. I don’t think any of these are rocket science but here they are!


Meesseman scored 23 points in Game 2 in her natural way, which is to take advantage of open space for easy shots. Though she is more effective moving off-ball and not forcing contact, Meesseman is going to have to make these kinds of plays now, especially so she can get Alyssa Thomas or Jonquel Jones to commit some fouls while contesting her.

We’ve seen Meesseman at her best in the semifinals. However, it also was with Delle Donne on the floor. If the WNBA MVP misses the rest of the playoffs, the Mystics need to make sure Meesseman is in position to score as much as possible. She’s been in these situations plenty of times.

This is her best chance to show the world that she isn’t in the WNBA to “hold her own.” She can make a case to be the Finals MVP!

Don’t let Kristi Toliver take ill-advised shots

Toliver is an All-Star talent and one of the best three point shooters in the league. She’s also quite streaky and sometimes takes contested shots for bricks at ... interesting moments.

There’s no need for Toliver to play hero ball. The Sun’s starting backcourt of Courtney Williams and Jasmine Thomas are strong defenders too, so it’s not going to be easy to drop 30 on them like it could be for Meesseman.

Win the rebounding battle

The Mystics were dominated 41-27 on the glass in Game 2 and they barely edged the Sun 28-27 in Game 1. Keeping Thomas and Jones from grabbing 10 or 15 rebounds each won’t be easy, but if the Mystics can be more aggressive getting rebounds, they’ll get more possessions to let their league-leading offense seal the deal.