Donovan Mitchell Was 'Frustrated and Upset' to Miss Game 1: 'We Got S--t to Handle'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 24, 2021

Utah Jazz's Donovan Mitchell, right, speaks with teammate Rudy Gobert (27) after he fouls out during the second half of Game 1 of their NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell was not happy he missed his team's 112-109 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in Sunday's Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series.

"I was frustrated and upset," he told reporters. "I was ready to go. I was ready to go. ... The biggest thing is moving forward. We got s--t to handle. I understand you've got questions to ask."

Mitchell continued and explained it wasn't his decision to sit out.

"Honestly, I was ready to go, and the staff didn't feel like I was ready," he said. "That's it. There wasn't any more to it."

Fortunately for the Jazz, he will be available for Wednesday's Game 2 as they look to even the series.

Mitchell's comments come after Brian Windhorst and Tim MacMahon of ESPN reported he was "incensed at the late decision to scratch him from Sunday's playoff opener, and it deepened tensions with the team regarding his recovery from a right ankle sprain."

The ESPN report explained the Louisville product declared himself ready to go and went through shootaround before the Jazz training staff recommended he not play. 

It also noted Mitchell had been working with his own training staff during his rehab process.

He has not played since April 16, with his injury cutting short what was shaping up to be a career season for the 24-year-old. He was averaging 26.4 points, 5.2 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game behind 38.6 percent shooting from three-point range, which were all career-best marks.

Utah was still able to clinch the No. 1 seed down the stretch without him, but it looked lost on offense for extended stretches during Sunday's playoff game.

It was just 12-of-47 from three-point range (25.5 percent) and had a mere 43 points at halftime. Bojan Bogdanovic did what he could with 29 points in the second half alone, but his contested three in the final seconds that could have forced overtime didn't fall.

With Mitchell back in the fold, the Jazz will have to win four of the next six contests to avoid an early elimination after an impressive regular season.