The teams headed to the WNBA Finals have one very important thing in common: The Washington Mystics and the Seattle Storm have superstar leaders whose game-ready accessories took on superhero lore in the semifinals.
Elena Delle Donne’s bulky knee brace supported her double-double efforts and the Mystics’ first trip to the WNBA Finals
Basketball fans held their collective breath when Elena Delle Donne hyperextended her knee late in Game 2 of the semifinals series against Atlanta. Delle Donne had been playing the best basketball of the season, so it was disappointing to see her go down and, for Mystics fans, the Game 2 loss was worrying.
Delle Donne went through intensive treatment on her knee, missed Game 3, and the Mystics suffered another loss that allowed the Dream to take the 2-1 series lead. But Delle Donne bounced back in Game 4 — bulky knee brace and all — and summoned some kind of superhero fire that got the Mystics the win and another opportunity in Game 5.
Delle Donne was playing great before the injury. But the truly amazing part is that the hobbled knee did not slow her down after the injury. Hobbled knee or no hobbled knee, Delle Donne continued to drive to the basket and rebound shots as if her championship dreams depended on it.
Whether the knee brace gave her special powers is anyone’s guess, but the fact remains: Delle Donne scored double-doubles every time out against Atlanta:
Game 1: 32 points and 13 rebounds
Game 2: 27 points and 14 rebounds
Game 3: missed due to injury
Game 4: 15 points and 10 rebounds
Game 5: 14 points and 11 rebounds
Delle Donne would not be denied. And we wish Elena Delle Donne and the Washington Mystics the best of luck in the WNBA Finals, the first in that franchise’s history!
Sue Bird’s broken beak and the mask that made all the difference in Seattle’s Game 5 win to get to the WNBA Finals
The Seattle Storm took a commanding 2-0 lead against the Phoenix Mercury in the semifinal series, with many sure the Mercury were would fall out of the postseason orbit in Game 3. But instead of getting the win in Game 3 to sweep the series, the Storm stumbled, thanks to a historic fourth-quarter comeback by Diana Taurasi. And in Game 4, the Storm got off to a slow start but clawed their way back into it. Still, however, victory would not be theirs because Brittney Griner came alive for a fierce double-double performance, while Sue Bird left the game with a broken nose ... courtesy of a Breanna Stewart elbow.
But the great Sue Bird is a WNBA champion and Olympic gold medalist — a fierce competitor who would never let a broken beak slow her down. She was back for Game 5 — menacing mask and all — and put on a Game 5 shooting show for the ages, for which the Mercury had no answer.
In this case, it is the mask that made all the difference in Bird’s ability to close out the game and the series. She was scoreless in Game 3 and put up 7 points in Game 4. Enter the masked Bird in Game 5? It was a 22-point night, with 14 of those points coming in the closing quarter.
In other words, Bird pulled a Taurasi — lighting it up in the fourth quarter, for the win.
Unlike Taurasi, however, Bird claimed a different Phoenix player pulled her mask (the cameras showed otherwise — a mask bump, maybe), that Phoenix player got called for the foul, and the rest was history in terms of the momentum shifting in the Storm’s favor. Still, pulled mask or no pulled mask, Bird hooped hard and will live eternal as the Masked Legend of Seattle.