Donovan Mitchell Says 'The Goal' Is to Return from Injury for Game 1 of Playoffs

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2021

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) brings the ball up court against the Indiana Pacers in the first half during an NBA basketball game Friday, April 16, 2021, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell told reporters Thursday his "goal" is to be ready for Game 1 of his team's first-round NBA playoff series. 

Utah announced May 11 that Mitchell would miss the team's final three games of the regular season because of a sprained ankle.

Tony Jones @Tjonesonthenba

Donovan Mitchell said his ankle injury wasn't as minor as it was made out to be. He said it was sore today after practice, but no real lingering pain

While the Jazz had yet to officially clinch the No. 1 seed, they had a two-game cushion on the Phoenix Suns at the time and went on to finish atop the Western Conference.

Losing Mitchell for that last stretch obviously wasn't ideal, but his readiness for the playoffs was the greater concern.

The two-time All-Star had a career year. He averaged 26.4 points and 5.2 assists while shooting 38.6 percent from beyond the arc, all personal bests.

While Mitchell played a critical role, the Jazz climbed to first place thanks to starting center Rudy Gobert and a supporting cast that has raised its game to another level. Jordan Clarkson is a front-runner for Sixth Man of the Year, while Mike Conley is looking more like the Memphis Grizzlies version of himself.

But Mitchell is more important to Utah's championship chances than any other player. His health and how much the ankle injury is affecting his performance will be monitored closely.