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Why Collin Sexton has Sunday’s game marked on the calendar

Last season, Sexton played in just 11 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The one thing kind of hanging over his head, is that number — 11.

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Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton yells

Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton (2) reacts as the Utah Jazz and the Denver Nuggets play at Vivint Arena on opening night in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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On Sunday, the Utah Jazz will play the 11th game of their 82-game schedule. It’s a game against the Los Angeles Clippers that doesn’t have any particularly compelling storylines attached to it, so why does that game mean so much to Jazz guard Collin Sexton?

Last season, before being sidelined after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, Sexton played in just 11 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Sexton said that he is feeling physically great, that he isn’t nervous about the knee and that mentally he feels ready to push forward, but the one thing kind of hanging over his head, is that number — 11.

“I just want to make it past that,” he said. “Then I can just kind of breathe.”

Sexton knows that he’ll play in many more games this season, but there are times during recovery when athletes have doubts and fears so getting past what he was able to do before the injury is going to be a relief.

The past few weeks with the Jazz have been difficult for Sexton in that he wants to go as fast and as hard as he possibly can and play all 48 minutes of a game. He’s chomping at the bit to go full-bore, but knows that patience is key right now.

“Everything’s feeling good, but you can’t just go straight back into it,” he said. “I’ve gotta remember that and just be patient and know that my time is gonna come.”

While many players have fear after returning from a major injury or surgery and have to overcome a mental battle of convincing themselves that their surgically repaired body is going to be strong enough to withstand everything it did before, Sexton is having none of that. He’s just ready to go.

“At the end of day, I did eight months of rehab, I was doing three-a-days, four-a-days, working all the time,” Sexton said. “I put my time in and I feel like I’ve got enough confidence in my head to know that everything’s fine. Just continue to push.”

No matter what the circumstances are, Sunday’s game will be one that Sexton quietly celebrates, knowing that he’s pushed past something that had been hanging over him.

New with the Jazz

This week in Jazz history

On Nov. 2, 1990, the Phoenix Suns defeated the Utah Jazz 119-96 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Japan in the first regular season game played outside North America by any major professional sports league. The teams also met the next night in Tokyo, with the Jazz winning 102-101.

This week on ‘Unsalvageable’

Check out “Unsalvageable,” hosted by Deseret News Utah Jazz beat reporter Sarah Todd and lifelong Jazz fan Greg Foster (no, not that Greg Foster).

This week the crew talks about all of the drama and controversy in the NBA including the Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving and the allegations against the Spurs and Josh Primo. Then they recap the most recent games, examine whether or not this is sustainable for the Jazz and make their picks for the upcoming week.

The podcast has moved to a new feed, so remember to follow or subscribe by searching for “Unsalvageable” through your podcast provider.

New episodes come out every week. You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and anywhere else you stream podcasts.

From the archives

Extra points

  • In the win over the Grizzlies, Nickeil Alexander-Walker showed he has more to offer (Deseret News)
  • Jared Butler joins G League’s Grand Rapids with head coach Andre Miller (Deseret News)
  • How Jazz fans have reacted to the team’s hot start (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Donovan Mitchell mural at The Gateway comes down (Salt Lake Tribune)

Around the league

Kyrie Irving suspended at least five games without pay by Brooklyn Nets.

Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden sidelined for at least a month with foot injury.

Josh Primo, Spurs sued by former team psychologist, criminal charges could follow.

Up next

Nov. 6 | 8 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Los Angeles Clippers | AT&T SportsNet

Nov. 7 | 8:15 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Lakers | AT&T SportsNet

Nov. 9 | 5:30 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Atlanta Hawks | AT&T SportsNet

Nov. 12 | 4 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Washington Wizards | AT&T SportsNet