Jazz's Rudy Gobert Calls Donovan Mitchell Missing Game 1 with Injury 'A Big Surprise'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 24, 2021

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert falls after pulling down a rebound during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Rudy Gobert expected to play alongside the team leader during Sunday's playoff game between the Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies.

Instead, Donovan Mitchell was ruled out with an ankle injury and the Jazz dropped Game 1 at home 112-109.

"It was a big surprise," Gobert told reporters. "But I try to stay out of all this—it's just gonna give me a headache. ... 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."

Gobert's comment about staying out of things is notable, especially since head coach Quin Snyder told reporters Mitchell wasn't happy that he didn't play either. Snyder explained the medical staff met with the Louisville product, who had previously declared himself "ready to go," and decided he wouldn't play.

"Of course we missed him, especially in the playoffs," Bojan Bogdanovic told reporters. "I don't know what happened, honestly, with the medical staff and him, to hold him out. You should ask him."

Utah looked lost without him for much of the game and fell behind by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter.

It is a testament to Bogdanovic that the final score was as close as it was, as he caught fire on his way to 29 points in the second half alone. The rest of the Jazz shot 8-of-36 (22.2 percent) from three-point range, and Gobert fouled out.

Despite the surprise from members of the team that Mitchell wasn't on the floor, he hasn't played since April 16. The Jazz are accustomed to playing without him and still found themselves trailing for the majority of the contest against a Grizzlies squad that was coming off two win-or-go-home games in the play-in tournament.

Game 2 is now close to a must-win for Utah; otherwise, it will be staring at a 2-0 hole with Games 3 and 4 in Memphis.

It seems as if Mitchell will likely play in that one given Snyder's comments that he was upset he couldn't play Sunday and thought he was ready.