SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Donovan Mitchell will indeed make his return to the court for Game 2 Wednesday night.
Mitchell, who missed the final 16 games of the regular season with an ankle injury, wanted to play in Game 1 against Memphis Sunday night. He thought he was going to play. He spoke to the media Sunday morning saying he was going to play.
After not being on the injury report, four hours before tipoff, the after consulting with the team’s medical staff, the Jazz made the announcement that Mitchell was out despite not being listed on the injury report the day before.
“I was frustrated and upset,” Mitchell said Monday. “I was ready to go. The biggest thing is moving forward. I was ready to go, the staff didn’t think I was ready. There was no setback. The biggest thing was I felt like I should have played. At the end of the day, the experts said, ‘Nope.’ That was the frustration. I felt like I wasn’t there for my team.”
The Jazz went on to lose to the Grizzlies, 112-109, to fall in a 1-0 series hole. And Mitchell was not OK with it.
Mitchell sent out a cryptic tweet last night after the loss, saying he wish he could say more, and he’ll be out there soon.
But Monday afternoon, the Jazz confirmed that Mitchell will be available to play in Game 2 against the Grizzlies.
So what changed from Sunday to Monday? Not much, apparently.
“They cleared me, and that was it,” Mitchell said. “There was no big discussion. There’s no time for that. It’s the playoffs.”
Asked if there was a chance the same thing would happen in Game 2, that he would be scratched hours before tipoff, Mitchell said, “No.”
Mitchell did admit he was a little shocked he was held out of Game 1.
“You could use that word,” he said. “I didn’t expect it. But I’m not a doctor. I’m not the expert. 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.
“The biggest thing for us is moving forward. We lost Game 1, and we’ve got s— to handle. Excuse my language, we’ve got s— to handle moving forward.”
Mitchell’s teammates were taken aback by the news that Mitchell wasn’t going to play Sunday night.
“I try to stay out of all of this, because it’s just going to give me a headache,” Rudy Gobert said. “It was a big surprise. When you wake up from a nap and find out your star player isn’t going to play, it throws you off a little bit. Hopefully, he’s good for next game. That’s all I’m worried about.”
“I found out about 4 o’clock,” Mike Conley said. “Obviously, that’s tough on our team. But we’ve played all season with guys in and out of the lineup. That’s not an excuse.”
But Mitchell did meet with the team, and they are moving forward.
“I spoke to my guys, we’re good, we’re past it,” Mitchell said. “It was unfair to my team. I felt like, man, I let them down in the sense that you’re not there for them in a playoff game. That probably hurts me more than anything else. It eats me. I barely slept because you think about that stuff. So that was really where it hit me, where it hurt.”
Mitchell did not play in the final 16 games of the regular season after spraining his ankle on April 16th.
He was up on his feet throughout the game Sunday night, cheering on his team and giving advice to the younger players.
In November, Mitchell signed a 5-year max extension worth up to $195 million.