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After first game back, Donovan Mitchell says there’s nothing to be worried about with his ankle

All-Star guard logged just under 26 minutes in his return to the floor

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell cheers after being fouled. as the Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies play in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 26, 2021.
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) cheers after being fouled on a 3-point attempt as the Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies play Game 2 of their NBA playoffs first round series at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 26, 2021.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Donovan Mitchell drove into the lane early in the fourth quarter Wednesday night, was fouled and came down on his right ankle.

That’s the ankle he sprained on April 16 that kept him out of 16 regular-season games and away from playing for the last five weeks.

So, when he gingerly got up and was walking around, hopping up and down in the huddle during the timeout that followed the foul, there was a reasonable amount of concern. That concern mounted when he checked out of the game 11 seconds later and went straight to the locker room.

But Mitchell said there’s nothing to be worried about.

“It wasn’t anything bad,” he said after the Utah Jazz’s Game 2 series-tying 141-129 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. “It wasn’t anything to be weary of. I feel good.”

Mitchell played just under 26 minutes, restricted in his first game back since the ankle injury. He said that when he went back to the locker room, and subsequently came back out and got on an exercise bike, it was more about keeping his ankle warm and not letting it stiffen up or cool down while he wasn’t in the game. He didn’t want that to be a problem when he checked back in later in the fourth quarter during the Jazz’s final push.

“Just trying to keep it warm,” Mitchell said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. I just haven’t played in five weeks, so all my stuff that I’ve been doing, the ankle is warm. Every workout, there’s always a time where you’re warm. There’s never a time where you’re sitting and coming back in.”

Mitchell also made a point to say that he goes back through the tunnel toward the locker room often during games, sometimes just to get a breather, not necessarily for any treatment. He insinuated that there’s more attention on his movements now because of the national broadcasts and because he’s coming back from injury.

He understands that he is in a bit of a touchy situation with his ankle, understands that it’s going to require extra care, possibly more limited minutes and him paying close attention to how it feels. He also knows that all eyes are going to be on him and the ankle. But, as for now, Mitchell said he’s doing fine.

“I’ve put myself in kind of a treacherous situation to come back to be ready for playoff intensity,” Mitchell said. “I felt better than I anticipated.”

The Jazz and Mitchell will have a much welcomed two days off before they take on the Grizzlies in Game 3 in Memphis on Saturday. How Mitchell feels through Thursday and Friday, after his first game back, will be incredibly important moving forward with the rest of the games in this series scheduled every other day.

“We’ll see how tomorrow goes,” Mitchell said. “I think the biggest thing is just trying to make sure I’m there for my teammates and making sure my body’s right.”