The WNBA MVP provided an emotional lift by playing through a back injury and her teammates responded with a solid effort to beat CT, 94-81, and move the Mystics within a victory of winning their first championship.
The Connecticut Sun are shining a little more brightly in recent days.
Washington outrebounded CT, 34-27, after being dominated on the boards, 41-27, in Game 2.
Washington didn't need Elena Delle Donne to be a superstar on Sunday, they just needed her to be out on the court. The team's top scorer would be limited in on-court action but return to the locker room during substitutions to get continuous back treatment. Jones, who scored 32 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in Connecticut's Game 2 win, scored just nine points to go with her nine boards.
Top-seeded Washington was 0-2 at #2 CT during the regular season. She became the first WNBA player to shoot at least 50 percent from the field (51.5), 40 percent from three-point range (43.0) and 90 percent from the free throw line (WNBA-high 97.4). She later underwent an MRI which revealed a small disc herniation.
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The league's MVP has a herniated disk that is pinching a nerve in her back and was questionable to play in Game 3. As stated Delle Donne is nursing a setback. The Sun, head coach Curt Miller told reporters Saturday, were practicing as if she would.
Last season, Washington lost Delle Donne to a knee injury as they met the Seattle Storm in the WNBA final.
This certainly wasn't the game the Sun were hoping for.
Connecticut's gameplan was to have Jones get more involved in the offense. go right at Delle Donne and put her on the defensive. The two squads did go bucket-for-bucket early in the first, but it was Washington that gained control early, opening up an eight-point lead midway through the quarter. Natasha Cloud was a thorn in Williams' side all game long, and played a big role in limiting her to just nine shots - well below her playoff average of 16.8.
CT posted a 41-27 edge on the boards, as well as a 17-6 advantage on the offensive glass. Cloud, who finished with 19 points in the game, did so by shooting 5-for-10 from beyond the arc. "It hurt us that I wasn't able to get on the boards". Not to mention Jones is able to clean up the missed Sun shots a lot better than the Mystics can and that is the difference in this game is the second chance shots. Those were the only shots she took in the first three quarters.
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Deja Vu All Over Again For Mystics?
Taking the show on the road to CT was always going to be problematic for Washington, even with a full and healthy roster to call upon.
Another flat start for the Sun, however, allowed the Mystics to quickly build a healthy lead. They weren't known for their work on that end of the floor throughout the season, but they were ready to play on Sunday. The Mystics routed the Sun 94-81 and now are just one game away from winning it all.
Since their 14-1 run ended with a Game 3 semi-final loss to the Las Vegas Aces, the Mystics are 2-2.
When faced with that scenario in the past, they've usually been counted out.
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