The Seattle Storm and Washington Mystics each won decisive Game 5 confrontations on Tuesday night to punch their tickets to the WNBA Finals.

WNBA Finals Storm Mystics
Despite a broken nose, Sue Bird scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Seattle Storm over the Phoenix Mercury in Game 5 of their WNBA semifinal series. (Image: Joshua Huston/NBAE/Getty)

Seattle reached the finals with a 94-84 victory over the Phoenix Mercury, while Washington edged the Atlanta Dream by an 86-81 margin to claim its spot in the championship series.

Injured Stars Shine in the Clutch

Both winning teams were led by injured stars who came up big when they were needed most.

The Mystics saw their hopes take a serious blow after star forward Elena Delle Donne injured her knee in Game 2 of the best-of-five series with Atlanta. With Delle Donne out, Washington would go on to lose both Game 2 and Game 3 to give the Dream a 2-1 series lead.

But Delle Donne managed to take the court in Game 4, scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the elimination game. The power forward would then post another double-double in Washington’s Game 5 win.

Those were a couple of quiet nights by Delle Donne’s standards. But considering she was playing with an injury that many thought would keep her out of the rest of the series, it was a massive contribution to her team. The Mystics got 20 points from rookie Ariel Atkins to lead them in Game 5, along with 19 more from Kristi Toliver.

“That’s why I came to D.C. – to make history,” Toliver told reporters after the game. “It’s very special to do it with this group of people. We just have a great, great locker room. It’s an exciting time to be a D.C. fan and I’m glad I’m on the winning side of it right now.”

Bird Puts Away Mercury in Fourth Quarter

Meanwhile, Sue Bird added another chapter to her storied career by putting on a show in the fourth quarter of the other decisive semifinal game. The 37-year-old guard, who was playing with a mask to protect a broken nose she suffered on Sunday, scored 14 of her 22 points in the fourth quarter to help Seattle put away the Mercury.

“As far as stretches go, it’s up there,” Bird told reporters after the game. “I don’t know if I had a fourth quarter like this in as big of a game in my life, to be honest.”

The top-seeded Storm had already become the first team in WNBA history to be forced to a Game 5 after leading a series 2-0. They nearly became the first to blow a two-game lead, as the Mercury were up by 11 at one point in the second quarter. But 28 points from Breanna Stewart along with Bird’s late game heroics were enough to carry Seattle to the WNBA Finals.

The two-time champion Storm are looking for their first WNBA title since 2010, while the Mystics are heading to the WNBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. Game 1 of the championship series will be played in Seattle on Friday night.

Seattle posted a league best 26-8 record this season, and enter the WNBA Finals as a clear favorite. According to William Hill, Seattle is a 4/9 pick to win the best-of-five series, while the Washington Mystics can be backed at 7/4 odds.