By DOUG FEINBERG, AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) – Elena Delle Donne and Chiney Ogwumike will have a huge impact on the playoff chances of the Washington Mystics and Los Angeles Sparks now that they’re back on the basketball court.
The two eventually returned after long interruptions due to injuries.
Delle Donne missed nearly two years with a back injury and COVID-19 precautions. The Washington Mystics star played her first game in 682 days last Sunday. The former MVP last played in the crucial game 5 of the WNBA Finals in 2019, which gave the Mystics their first championship.
“It was a great day just being out there and competing with my teammates. It was quite a whirlwind, ”said Delle Donne, who scored 16 points on her return. “You know I’m running out of time and I’ve been a little emotional. I thought I can’t add the crying right now (because) I’m nervous. I definitely felt it in my eyes for a second. “
Delle Donne said her back and body were feeling good and that for the rest of the week she will treat herself and see how she feels. The 31-year-old striker said the hardest part was “being so unsure if the nerve pain will get out of hand again, so that’s the worry”.
The Mystics weren’t the only team that finally got well this week. Los Angeles welcomed Ogwumike back, who had been out with a knee problem since May 28. She returned against New York on Sunday.
“When I got the green light, I thought, ‘Thank you, Lord.’ I think that’s the best feeling, when something is gone, you miss it more. I missed it very much, “she said.
Ogwumike anticipates that he will have a minute limit for some games.
“My knee felt really great out there,” she said. “My teammates give me so much confidence. You know my trip has been a long one. But this is a special group, and being out there with my sister again and doing some of the things we always talked about … today was a great day. “
1 Las Vegas (17-6): The Aces are playing three games on the street this week with one major clash against Connecticut, followed by a trip to Atlanta and Indiana.
2. Seattle (18-7): The Storm returns home after a long five-game road trip to kick off the second half of the season. Had a layover at the White House on Monday to celebrate the 2020 team championship.
3. Connecticut (17-6): Jonquel Jones leads the Sun’s playoff push and is a frontrunner in the league’s MVP awards. She averages the best 20.6 points of her career this season.
4. Minnesota (14-9): The Lynx has a favorable schedule for six of their next seven games at home. Minnesota is 10-3 in their last 13 games, with 10 of those games being played on the road. The Lynx also welcomed Aerial Powers last weekend after missing two months as she recovered from a UCL tear in her right thumb.
5. Phoenix (13-10): Five of the Mercury’s next six games are on the road, but none of their opponents have a track record.
6. Chicago (11-12): Candace Parker injured her left ankle again last week and her health will have an impact on where the team finishes in the overall standings.
7. Los Angeles (10-13): The Sparks are one of the hottest teams to come out of the Olympic break with four wins since the game resumed. It is no accident that the main reason for this is that they are now healthy and playing excellent defense. Los Angeles keeps its opponents at just over 74 points per game in their four wins.
8. New York (11-14): The Liberty will be without Sami Whitcomb for the next two weeks as she recovers from a left ankle sprain. Whitcomb has been one of the most consistent players for New York this season, averaging 12.8 points while shooting 44% behind the 3-point arc. She has also averaged 5.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists.
9. Washington (8-14): While the Mystics welcome Delle Donne again, the team is missing Olympic champion Tina Charles due to tight left glutes.
10. Dallas (10-13): The Wings dropped five of their last six games and fell behind in the playoff chase, but Dallas has a friendly schedule that could help the team make it to the postseason.
11t. Atlanta (6-17): The Dream have lost eight games in a row. Her last win was June 29th. With Cheyenne Parker missing the rest of the season because of a pregnancy, Atlanta brought back security guard Blake Dietrick for the remainder of the year.
11t. Indiana (5-18): The Fever is currently on a short roster due to injuries and players taking personal leave. Still, the team has played much better recently with four wins in their last six games.
Brittney Griner of Phoenix was named Player of the Week after an average of 20.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists in the three victories of the Mercury. Other players who received votes were Jonquel Jones and DeWanna Bonner from Connecticut and Nneka Ogwumike from Los Angeles.
Aces on Sunday, Tuesday. The league’s top spot is at stake when Las Vegas visits Connecticut. It is the last meeting in the regular season between the two teams and the Sun have already won the season series and won the first two encounters.
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