Despite Donovan Mitchell’s eagerness to play in Game 1 of their NBA playoffs first-round series against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, the Utah Jazz elected to keep him out.
Mitchell returned to practise on Thursday after missing the last 16 games of the regular season due to a sprained right ankle. He was not noted on the official injury report until Sunday afternoon, when he was declared out.
Sunday night, the Grizzlies defeated the Jazz 112-109 to grab a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
After speaking with Mitchell following the morning shootaround, Jazz coach Quin Snyder stated the team’s medical staff decided to keep him out of Game 1.
“Obviously, Donovan, being the competitor that he is, wants to be out there and will hopefully be out there soon,” Snyder said, declining to go into detail about the medical staff’s decision. “The health of our players, I believe, is first in everyone’s mind. They’ll monitor him on a daily basis, and maybe he’ll be back on the field soon. He is, as I already stated, a competitor.”
Mitchell stated he experienced some stiffness in his ankle but was excited to play in the Western Conference first-round series opener in a virtual media availability following shootaround. He hadn’t met with the medical team yet.
Mitchell, who had career highs of 26.4 points and 5.2 assists per game for the top-seeded Jazz, added, “I feel terrific.” “There will always be soreness. I’m in good spirits. I’m all set to leave tonight. There is no discomfort. I’m eager to get started.”
When Rudy Gobert woke up from his afternoon siesta, he was stunned to find Mitchell had been ruled out.
“It came as a complete shock. But I try to keep away from it all because it’ll simply give me a headache “After the game on Sunday night, Gobert stated. “Hopefully he’ll be ready for the next game. All I’m concerned about is that.”
To the future Mitchell “is our leader and greatest player,” according to Bojan Bogdanovic, but he doesn’t believe Mitchell’s absence played a significant influence in the top-seeded Jazz losing Game 1.
“We were performing brilliantly without him and Mike [Conley] for the last 20 games,” Bogdanovic stated. “Of course, he was missed, particularly during the playoffs. To be honest, I’m not sure what happened between the medical professionals and him to keep him alive. You should inquire about him.”
Mitchell is considered day-to-day, according to Snyder, who acknowledges that “Donovan more than anyone” is looking forward to his return.
Snyder stated, “We want to see our people out there.” “That’s something we’re working on. In Donovan’s instance, he’ll be evaluated further, and we’re hopeful that this will happen soon.”