After a Game 5 loss to the Clippers Wednesday night, Jazz star Donovan Mitchell admitted his right ankle has become more painful throughout the series, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Utah is on the verge of elimination after letting a critical game slip away at home, and Mitchell wasn’t able to play his normal style. He finished with 21 points, his lowest scoring total of the postseason, and made just 6-of-19 shots from the field.
“It’s something I’m going to have to deal with,” Mitchell told reporters after the game. “… I ain’t got nothing else to say. Like, it’s tough when you’re trying different things that you normally do and you see spots you can get to, but you can’t, so you got to find a way to make it happen. It’s tough, but I got to find a way. Otherwise, I’m going to be home.”
Mitchell, who had a string of six straight 30-point games before Wednesday, is still feeling the effects of an ankle sprain that caused him to miss the final 16 games of the regular season and the playoff opener against Memphis. He said he has aggravated the injury several times during the series with the Clippers.
“For most of my life, I’ve been able to push by, explode by, and jump through people or over people, and for the first time in my career, I’ve had to play on the floor,” Mitchell said. “Knowing when to attack, picking my spots, finding my teammates, I think that’s the biggest thing, being able to kind of get off, hit them when they’re doubling me and engaging the blitz. And I think I did a solid job of that. I can do better. It’s a learning process and it sucks that I’m learning this through the playoffs, but it is what it is and no excuses.”
There’s more from Utah:
- Mike Conley had “a small setback” in his recovery from a strained right hamstring, but he still hopes to return before the series ends, according to Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. Conley, who was hurt in the final game of the first round, said he had been preparing to play in Game 3, but he re-injured the hamstring before that could happen. “This is why it’s been extended a bit longer than I know we all would like. Obviously, if I could play, I would — there’s no question about that,” Conley said. “But the progress we’re making now is really good. It’s just a little delayed.”
- The Jazz have been relying on their skill level all season, but it will take grittiness to win in Los Angeles and return home for a Game 7, states Tony Jones of The Athletic. Rudy Gobert suggested that his team got too relaxed after a fast start Wednesday. “I didn’t feel like there was a sense of urgency for us defensively at the beginning of the game,” he said. “In a way, I wish we hadn’t made so many shots. Then, we would have thought about playing better defensively. We let them get comfortable. And when we let a team this good get comfortable, you put yourself in a tough position either way.”
- Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer examines how Mitchell has been able to turn himself into a dangerous three-point shooter and what it means for his game going forward.