Elena Delle Donne was such a question mark for Sunday's Game 3 of the WNBA Finals, former Vice President Joe Biden wasn't sure she'd play.
"Elena @De11eDonne is the pride of Delaware. Wishing her well as she recovers — we need more professional athletes like her sharing their support for inclusive sports. I'm looking forward to seeing her back on the court soon," Biden wrote on his twitter feed Sunday.
Elena @De11eDonne is the pride of Delaware. Wishing her well as she recovers — we need more professional athletes like her sharing their support for inclusive sports. I'm looking forward to seeing her back on the court soon.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 6, 2019
Delle Donne not only played, but she was important. She scored 13 points in her 26 minutes of Washington's 94-81 victory to take a 2-1 lead over Connecticut in the Best-of-5 Finals. During breaks she stayed on her feet, often going to the locker room to receive treatment from a physical therapist.
The former Ursuline and Delaware star suffered a herniated disc in her back during Game 2 of the series, and wasn't able to play past the opening three minutes of the Mystics' loss.
"Backs are something that are really hard to push through. It could be anything, you could sneeze, and something could go wrong."
Delle Donne said one of her biggest challenge is simply when she's trying to go to sleep.
"Amanda [Elena's wife] has to set up the pillows. There's only two positions I can lay in that I'm not in pain. It's a lot of movement through the night to try to find a little bit of sleep when I can."
After warming up, Elena made the decision to play in Game 3, but said she had to alter her game.
"It's just frustrating when I get the ball and I know with my normal body I can drive by or pull up, but sometimes I need to pass it right now and just space out. I hope tomorrow I'm feeling better than yesterday, but you just never know."
Dealing with the pain in a factor, and said there's a mental component to being able to compete when not feeling 100%.
"I do a lot of deep breathing to try to help loosen my muscles and try to focus away from the pain. I'm trying to do whatever is possible to be out there."
In terms of where this pain rates, Delle Donne was asked Monday how this back injury compares to a hyper-extended knee she suffered during last year's postseason.
"This hurts more. Knees I feel like they're achy but you can push through. Backs, you take one bad step you feel like you're paralyzed, so this hurts worse."
Delle Donne and the Mystics hope Tuesday's Game 4 will be the final one of the WNBA season. A victory would bring the franchise and Delle Donne their first league title.
Tip-off from Connecticut is set for 8 p.m. on ESPN2.