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In a sudden course reversal, Donovan Mitchell will miss Game 1

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) shoots over Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) during the game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 26, 2021.

(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)



SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell thought he was good to go on Sunday morning, telling reporters that he felt "no pain" and was "excited to get going."

His return, however, will have to wait.

Mitchell will miss Game 1 of the Utah Jazz's first-round series against Memphis as his right ankle continues to heal, the team announced. That news is a quick reversal of course from what the All-Star guard had said just hours prior after Sunday's shootaround.

"I think the biggest thing is I feel good," Mitchell said Sunday morning. "There's always going to be soreness when you come back from an injury like this. There's always going to be things that haven't been activated (recently). ... I feel good. Ready to go tonight. No pain, and excited to get going."

Mitchell hasn't played since spraining his ankle on April 16 in the midst of one of the best stretches of his career, but still the news came as some surprise considering he wasn't even listed on Utah's injury report on Saturday.

Mitchell shared on Thursday that he felt the injury was more serious than what was initially reported — and his absence Sunday further confirms that. If there's good news for Jazz fans it's that the team was able to hold on to the No. 1 seed with Mitchell not suiting up for the better part of the last month of the season. A fact that Mitchell himself acknowledged Sunday morning.

"At the end of the day, I don't have to do everything," Mitchell said. "I mean, we have a great team that can get things done. And going out there and picking my spots and just doing what I can out there. That's the biggest thing: contributing any way possible."

For now, that's cheering from the bench. The Jazz made it clear they didn't want to rush Mitchell back and want to avoid potential setbacks in the recovery. With Game 2 not being until Wednesday, missing Sunday's game allows a couple more days for him to heal before starting what the team hopes to be a deep playoff run.

Sunday's Game 1 is a classic rust vs. rest game. The Jazz haven't played for a week. The break has allowed Mike Conley some extra time to heal the hamstring he re-aggravated a few weeks ago, and Joe Ingles some time to rest after doing most of the heavy lifting for the Jazz offense over the final stretch of the season.

Meanwhile, the Grizzlies are coming off essentially two Game 7's just to reach the playoffs — and the one on Friday went into overtime. Less than 48 hours later, they'll be tipping off in Utah.

"I feel like we are great," Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks said. "We had a rest yesterday. Guys got in, got some shots, but hopefully our guys are feeling great. Some guys want to take a nap. I feel like our bodies are good. We need a great first quarter, for sure."

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