While the game hung in the balance, final minutes ticking away, the worst happened. A drive to the lane. A knee-buckling under force. Tears.
Tuesday night’s adrenaline pumping Game 2 of the WNBA Playoffs between the Atlanta Dream and Washington Mystics suddenly didn’t matter at that moment.
The Dream took the win Tuesday night 78-75 in front of an electric crowd at McCamish Pavilion. WNBA’s new Coach of the Year Nicki Collen collected her first playoff win as head coach. However, the basketball world just wanted one question answered.
How extensive is Ellena Delle Donne’s injury?
Delle Donne was helped off the court with 3:04 remaining in the final quarter; her team up 70-68. With both teams bringing all-out intensity, banking crazy shots off the glass, and hitting clutch threes something had to give. Unfortunately for the Mystics, it was Delle Donne’s left knee.
“It’s just a really tough loss,” Said Mystics Head Coach while fighting back tears. “We played really good basketball to get back into the game after their good start. Obviously, we had a lead in the third quarter, and to their credit, they came back, tied it up by the end of the quarter. And then it was just kind of a war of attrition in the fourth quarter. They made more plays than we did. Obviously, losing Elena doesn’t help, but it’s a long series.”
On the winning side of the ball the Dream, who have already experienced their best player go down with an injury, did just enough when it mattered. Alex Bentley led the team with 22 points off the bench, shooting 8-for-14. The roster move that brought Bentley to the dream on July 9thseems to support why Atlanta GM Chris Sienko was announced as WNBA GM of the year.
The Dream improved on their ability to force turnovers finishing with 10 in Game 2, and none was more important than Renee Montgomery on Washington’s final possession.
“To get stops when we need them says a lot about our team,” Said Coach Collen. “Even the steal by [Bentley] right there at the end was kind of telling. That’s how we’ve won games early in the season. We’ve had a lot of grind it out games and tonight was another one of those games.”
Atlanta will now travel to Washington for games three and four, ultimately awaiting the announcement of Delle Donne’s injury status. Coach Collen did give the media an interesting insight that Delle Donne was seen walking around the arena after the game. Either way, this series is long from over and will most likely return to Atlanta for Game 5.
All Photo’s by Jamie Thompson