Sky adjust without injured star Delle Donne – but for now long?

SHARE Sky adjust without injured star Delle Donne – but for now long?
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Elena Delle Donne looks on in the fourth quarter during the gold medal game between the United States and Spain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Sky enter the final weekend of the WNBA regular season with a playoff berth in hand.

That much is certain.

What’s not certain is how long the Sky will be without star forward and leading scorer Elena Delle Donne. She underwent surgery Tuesday for a right thumb injury that forced her to miss the last three games.

After the surgery, Delle Donne posted on social media that she will be back on the court in no time. On Wednesday, the Sky listed Delle Donne as day-to-day two days after saying there was no timetable for her return. Their final two games are Friday against the New York Liberty at home and Sunday against the Seattle Storm on the road.

Without Delle Donne, the Sky knocked off the champion Minnesota Lynx 98-97 in overtime on Tuesday. Cappie Pondexter scored a season-high 24 points and Courtney Vandersloot 18. After the game, coach Pokey Chatman said her team is prepared to keep playing without Delle Donne. Chatman declined an interview request Wednesday to discuss moving ahead without her.

“I know this group believes in what they’re capable of,” Chatman said after the game. “We’ll continue with whoever shows up at practice and who’s healthy.”

Delle Donne is tied with the Liberty’s Tina Charles for the league lead in scoring at 21.5 points per game.

The Sky worked around Delle Donne’s absence at practices during the Olympic break while she played for the U.S. women’s gold-medal-winning team. That has paid off, with the Sky winning two of the three games Delle Donne has missed.

Pondexter credited Chatman for having the Sky prepared to play without Delle Donne.

“She made sure we individually got better without our key player,” Pondexter said. “I think our mindset has been that way since the [Olympic] break. So we knew where we were going and where we were headed without her.”

Entering the weekend, the Sky are the No. 4 seed, which would give them a first-round bye. The playoffs begin Wednesday.

Pondexter said the Sky remain focused on the day-to-day as the regular season winds down. Chatman has taken the same approach and knows she can’t control the health of her players.

“No one wants to be hurt,” Chatman said Tuesday. “It happens so much in sports, unfortunately. Everybody wants to play. Thankfully, we’ve got some people that are healthy that we can ride this thing out until we can get everyone back on board.”

Follow me on Twitter @JeffArnold_.

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