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September 29, 2019

Elena Delle Donne

Kristi Toliver

Ariel Atkins

Washington, D.C.

Washington - 95, Connecticut - 86

Q. Elena, your thoughts on the composure the team had when Connecticut made that run to get within four, and defensively on Jonquel, what were you able to do to limit her throughout the game?
ELENA DELLE DONNE: I mean, the team showed a ton of toughness. It's always tough when a team is going on a run like that, they have the shooters they have. But everybody was just kind of able to take a deep breath, stay calm. I think the last series really prepared us for moments like that because it was such a battle.

And then Jonquel, she's a great player. She makes some really tough shots. She's got length. So you can send bodies at her and she can elevate and shoot over, but we were able to dig. The guards were able to help me a lot on those digs. She's going to get her points, but you try to limit them and make everything hard.

Q. Kristi had a very integral role in that fourth quarter and some of those plays on offense. For Elena and Ariel, what has Kristi's experience in previous instances in championship situations, in the WNBA and college, meant to you as you've gone through the playoffs? And for Kristi, have you been able to tell your teammates anything, being the main person on this team who has won a championship before?
ELENA DELLE DONNE: I mean, she's our calm. She's our calming voice. Everything she says in huddles settles us and gets our mind focused on the right things. She tells us it's not too big of a moment for us, we're ready for this, it's no different than any other game. It's the process of how we played the entire season and continue that.

She's just our calm voice and our calm player on the floor. If you give it to her, she's going to save us in a lot of tough moments.

Q. To all the players up there, especially given the experience last year in the WNBA Finals, what does having this building mean as you go through Game 1 and just this support you're getting from the organization that's gotten you this far?
KRISTI TOLIVER: Yeah, it's great. We have a home. We're not Nomads anymore. Last year was tough when you're playing in a different building every other night, you know, when the season is on the line.

To be in this building and have the support of the Wizards and Ted and Tommy and everybody, it means a lot. We feel like professional athletes here. We have the best facilities in the league. We have the weight room. We have the chef. We're working on the best travel, Commissioner. But it's great. This is the best place to be in the WNBA.

Q. Ariel, you had a phenomenal game tonight. I know you struggled with your shot a little bit in the semifinals. What was the key do you think tonight to kind of being the X factor for the team? And for Elena and Kristi, what have you seen from Ariel in this postseason?
ARIEL ATKINS: I think just keeping the focus. Yeah, they've struggled throughout the series, but the main point of all of this is to win. I could care less if I score 50 or 0 trying to win a championship.

KRISTI TOLIVER: I mean, people always ask me about little A. They're like, all right, what is little A going to bring, is this moment too big for her, dadada. I'm like, listen, little A is little freaking A, and she plays hard all the time and she gives everything all the time and she's a selfless kid.

Like, she is, to me, the best second-year player I've ever been around as far as her maturity level, her work ethic, her want to do the right thing for the team.

And she was the difference maker for us last year. She had a great rookie season. And this year she's just showing that sophomore slumps are BS. And I'm just really, really proud of her and all the plays that she's made, and tonight her rebounding and her play making was the difference for us because those were in critical, critical moments.

ELENA DELLE DONNE: This is a random funny story about little A. But last year we did massages at rookie's houses, and when I walked into little A's house and she had a crock pot cooking some meal, and then she had plants, I was like, this is the oldest soul I've ever met, and I fell in love with her ever since.

Q. Elena, after last year where you're in the Finals but you're obviously struggling with a health issue, I just wonder how gratifying it is to be here and be in a place physically where you're able to play your game?
ELENA DELLE DONNE: I mean, yeah, it feels great to know that I'm able to actually give everything I have. Last playoffs I gave everything I had, but that was about 70 percent. Just physically I wasn't there.

So to be back and to be feeling good and to have my body working properly, it feels great. Now Panda has to kind of experience some of what I went through last year, but she's handling it with ease.

Q. Kristi, I had two questions. First off, how is the knee feeling? I was wondering if you had any sort of feelings like you did in the last Finals. And secondly, you were able to come off screens when Jasmine Thomas was on you and get to the rim. What did you see there?
KRISTI TOLIVER: Yeah, I feel great. We're 1-0 in the Finals. Adrenaline takes over, and that's what we're rolling with right now. Since taking the brace off, I've been able to be able to play a little bit more downhill and a little bit more like myself, and I'm just going to continue to try to be in attack mode, whether that's getting to the rim or finding other people once I can engage, too. I'm going to continue to do that because I think that's what kind of gets the motor running for our team.

Q. Throughout the season, players have mentioned I know that last year's -- being swept last year in the WNBA Finals was motivation. I think even just during practice, during games, throughout the season, players have mentioned that. Is that still a motivation for the team, and how good does it feel to finally get a win in the Finals?
KRISTI TOLIVER: I mean, I think at this point, last year was last year. This is a whole new season. You know, we're motivated to win now, and obviously we're back to where we wanted to be from last season, but we're just motivated for this year. I mean, obviously last year that gave us the experience, and I think it gave us the confidence that we have for this season because we were there last year and we know what it looks like, what it feels like, what it tastes like, but we're just ready to win.

Q. When the ball sticks, what gets it unstuck and leads to big shots like the one Ariel was able to get in the corner?
ELENA DELLE DONNE: I mean, we have really skilled players, and there's moments where the ball will stick and their defense is going to be good at clogging it up, and it's about big players making big shots. And we've had different players do it all season long.

So I think that's what's so great about our team, is any five on the court can do it at any moment. So we're used to it and we're ready for it.

Q. Ariel, your assignment today was Courtney Williams. Can you talk about just the challenges she brought to you today and how you were able to play off of her when you were on offense, as well?
ARIEL ATKINS: Yeah, she's definitely a one tough to guard. I think the biggest part of it is having help side and having my teammates stick their hands in every now and then. I think that's what we do really well is play assignments as a team. We don't just build one person out to do everything.

Q. Kristi or Elena, you guys had 14 turnovers, I think nine in the first half, which is kind of uncharacteristic for you. What was kind of going on? What accounts for that, and how did you ultimately clean that up in the second half?
KRISTI TOLIVER: A lot of it was hesitation. We just talked about the ball sticking. Well, the ball was moving, but it was moving a little bit too much, and we just had to come out -- you know, it's the first game of the Finals. Whether we were here last year or whatever, it's still a big moment, and I think we had a couple bonehead mistakes and we were able to -- the good thing is we were able to clean it up and get better in the second half, and we know valuing the basketball is a key to winning a ring. We're very mindful of that, and moving forward that will continue to be a major point of emphasis for us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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