The Utah Jazz fell flat in Game 1 of their first round series with the Grizzlies on Sunday night, losing 112-109 in a game that didn’t feel that close for much of the second half. The two big issues for Utah were turnovers and shooting, as they had 14 turnovers on the night to just nine for Memphis and shot a putrid 25.5 percent from the field.
It was a poor showing and after the game one couldn’t help but wonder how it could’ve gone differently had Donovan Mitchell been able to go after he was a late scratch due to his continued recovery from a right ankle sprain. It’s the 17th straight game Mitchell has missed for the Jazz, but this absence was different in that he had said after shootaround that he was “ready to go” and expected to play. When word broke that wouldn’t be the case, it came as a surprise to many, including Mitchell and his teammates, like Rudy Gobert.
After the game, Mitchell voiced his frustrations a bit on Twitter in the form of a tweet apologizing to fans and saying, “I wish I could say more,” about the situation.
Sorry y’all… I wish I could say more…. I’ll be out there soon !❤️🙏🏾
— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) May 24, 2021
That hinted at some behind the scenes turmoil in Utah, which we got reported out in a bit more detail by Brian Windhorst and Tim MacMahon of ESPN on Monday morning. They said Mitchell was “incensed” by the late scratch and that this “deepened tensions” that have apparently been lingering for some time regarding the cautious nature of how Utah is handling his return from injury. It’s not a surprise that the Jazz are looking to protect their star who they invested heavily in this past offseason for the long-term, but it’s also understandable why Mitchell wants to be back on the floor ASAP.
The Jazz, as the 1-seed, are in a position they haven’t been in during this current run and they have to feel like this year presents as good of an opportunity to make a Finals run through the West as any because of their homecourt advantage. That is something they’ve now lost for this first round series as they’ll need to take a game in Memphis at some point after losing Game 1, and that it ended up being a three-point game after Memphis led by as many as 17 will only add to Mitchell’s frustration that his presence would’ve yielded a different outcome.
This isn’t the first time there’s been some internal fraying in Utah that’s been reported, as last year there were ample reports of issues between Mitchell and Gobert that have been squashed since. Now Quin Snyder and company have another job to do on top of making adjustments for Game 2, as they apparently need to get Mitchell back on the same page with the organization.