Donovan Mitchell was less-than-thrilled about not playing for the Utah Jazz in Game 1 of their Western Conference Playoffs series vs. the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Tim MacMahon report that Mitchell was “furious” over the decision made by the Jazz’s medical staff. Mitchell had not played in Utah’s final 16 regular-season games. While he was listed day-to-day heading into Sunday’s series opener vs. Memphis, the medical staff did not give Mitchell the go-ahead. Fate would have it, Utah lost Game 1 by three.
“For me, for my team, I was definitely frustrated and upset that I wasn’t able to play,” said Mitchell. “I’m a competitor. I felt I was ready to go. I felt ready to go, and unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. That was not how it happened. I was ready to go when I spoke [after Sunday’s shootaround to the media], and they came to the decision that that’s what it was.”
“The biggest thing for us is moving forward. We lost Game 1, and we’ve got s**t to handle. Excuse my language, we’ve got s**t to handle moving forward.”
How much of an on-court impact can Mitchell make in his Jazz return on Wednesday night?
Donovan Mitchell was beyond frustrated he was not allowed to play in Game 1
With Mitchell cleared to play in Game 2 on Wednesday night, Utah has to beat Memphis to avoid having all the pressure being on the Jazz in this best-of-seven series. Keep in mind that had it not been for the inaugural play-in tournament, Ja Morant’s Grizzlies would not have even qualified for the 2021 NBA Playoffs. Memphis finished in ninth place in the Western Conference this season.
Utah was able to get the top seed in the West without having Mitchell available for essentially a quarter of the year. Though the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers have gotten more attention than them, Utah is one of a handful of teams that have a realistic shot of winning a league title. Of course, Utah has to take care of a feisty Memphis team in the first round first.
Look for a charged-up Mitchell to play out of his mind in Game 2 vs. the Grizzlies on Wednesday.