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Elena Delle Donne has the Washington Mystics in the WNBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, where they’ll face Sue Bird and the Seattle Storm.
The star forward came to Washington last year to try to lead the Mystics to a championship. She has them one step away.
“DC’s become home to me,” said Delle Donne, who grew up about two hours north in Delaware. “Now we need the city to rally behind us because we’re not finished yet.”
Bird chose to stay in Seattle a few years ago while the franchise was rebuilding. Now she’ll get a chance to win her third WNBA championship.
“It’s been a great run,” said Bird, who scored 14 of her 22 points in the final 5:48 of a 94-84 win over Phoenix in the semi-finals on Tuesday night. “When the season started I wasn’t sure what was going to happen and now we’re in the finals.”
Game 1 is tomorrow night in Seattle.
The two stars helped their teams win decisive Game 5s and advance to the championship round. Both players did so while overcoming injuries from earlier in their series.
Delle Donne sustained a bone bruise in her left knee during Game 2 that forced her to miss the third game of the series. Bird broke her nose in Game 4 and sat out the second half. Yet with the season on the line, both stepped up.
They certainly didn’t do it alone. Washington rookie Ariel Atkins was instrumental, leading her team with 20 points and seven rebounds yesterday in an 86-81 victory over Atlanta.
“My goodness did Ariel Atkins step up for us. She’s not a rookie,” Delle Donne said.
League MVP Breanna Stewart scored 28 points to lead the Storm and reserve Sami Whitcomb had 11 crucial points off the bench.
“You have to take your hat off to the heart that we had down the stretch. … We really dug in,” Seattle coach Dan Hughes said.
“Watching Sue Bird have the presence in that moment. I played Stewie for the first time 40 minutes and then you get a player like Sami Whitcomb who trains like no other and was ready for a big moment. So a lot of things that we had to dig to get, and that’s what you’ve got to do to advance. Advance we will.”
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