clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell is looking to have a better Game 2 performance against Houston Rockets

HOUSTON — After taking a moment to reflect on Sunday’s 122-90 Game 1 loss to Houston, some glaring stats stood out to Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell on his performance.

Zero assists. Five turnovers.

“No assists and five turnovers, that’s huge,” Mitchell said. “I think fortunately, it’s just one game and we have to learn from it.

“I can’t have no assists and five turnovers,” he added. “If you have no assists and five turnovers, you have to look yourself in the mirror and figure out how to adjust.”

After reviewing film from his Game 1 performance on Monday, then going through a team practice on Tuesday, the second-year guard says he’s more prepared for Game 2 on Wednesday. During last year’s postseason, the Jazz also dropped both Game 1s to Oklahoma City and Houston during the first and second round, so the initial sting of defeat wasn’t unfamiliar.

“It’s over with, we made our adjustments,” Mitchell said. “I think we know what we want to do coming into it and just play Game 2. I think we’ve been here before so we’re kind of used to it, we’re accustomed to this … it’s not good to be accustomed to it but we are and I think we’re just going to come out there and play the way we have been.”

Mitchell ended with 19 points and five rebounds on 7-for-18 shooting, while the team shot 39 percent from the field and 25.9 percent from 3 on Sunday. He was mostly guarded by Rockets players Eric Gordon, Austin Rivers and P.J. Tucker who forced him to make quick reads with their switching defense.

“It’s not what we did, he just didn’t have a great game. We tried,” said Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni. “But it’s not like, ‘Oh, yeah, we’ve got a formula' or anything.

“He’ll play better, and we’ve just got to make it hard on him and hopefully he won’t get it going, but he could.”

As a rookie, Mitchell started his playoff career by breaking Michael Jordan’s shooting guard record with 55 points scored in the first two games. He averaged 28.5 points and 7.2 rebounds on 46.2 percent shooting to help the Jazz upset the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-2 in the opening round of the 2018 postseason before being eliminated by Houston in Round 2, 4-1.

Mitchell’s numbers dipped to 19.4 points and 6.0 assists on 36 percent shooting in last year’s Rockets series during the Western Conference Semifinals while mainly being checked by Trevor Ariza, who is now with the Washington Wizards. Sure, his teammates and the coaching staff can put him in better positions to attack, but Mitchell’s ability to dissect and recognize specific situations will depend on his in-game progress as well.

Snyder says he liked how Mitchell was able was get into the lane but has to do a better job of finding others once Houston’s defense collapses.

“One of the biggest things for him that (assistant coach) Johnnie Bryant, myself and his teammates continue to emphasize is him making quick decisions,” Snyder said. “Sometimes that’s with the ball, sometimes it’s without.”