Facing playoff elimination, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell says ‘I don’t want to go home’
After an injury scare in the fourth quarter of Game 5, Mitchell says he’ll be good to go Thursday night
When Donovan Mitchell felt pain in his upper left leg during the fourth quarter of the Utah Jazz’s Game 5 playoff loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, it scared him.
Soft tissue injuries have plagued many NBA players during these playoffs. Mavericks star Luka Doncic missed the first three games of this series with a calf strain, the Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown has had some issues with a hamstring, the Milwaukee Bucks’ Khris Middleton is dealing with an MCL sprain, Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is sidelined with a hamstring injury, and that’s just an abbreviated list that doesn’t include players with upper-body injuries or illness.
Additionally, Mitchell has seen what a hamstring injury can do when it forced Mike Conley to miss significant time during last year’s playoffs.
Luckily for Mitchell, imaging and testing showed that there’s no damage or injury to his hamstring. The pain Mitchell felt was coming from a quadriceps contusion, which means that while he’ll deal with some tenderness and soreness in the area, it’s not something that will keep him from playing.
“What I (thought I) felt was in the hammy — knock on wood, I’ve never had a hamstring injury before — so I was nervous,” Mitchell said after Jazz practice on Wednesday. “But the MRI came back negative and told us what we already knew.”
Mitchell had been dealing with bruising on both of his quads (the right-side hit in Game 4 and the left earlier in Game 5), but it was only after going up for a shot with 4:55 left to play in Game 5 that he started to feel significant pain and out of caution and worry left the game and underwent additional examinations.
Following Game 5, Mitchell was pretty certain that he would be able to play in Game 6, barring any unexpected results from his MRI on Tuesday morning. His certainty was solidified when the results came back negative.
“I’ll be ready to go tomorrow,” Mitchell said.
That’s a good thing considering it’s the Jazz’s most important game of the 2021-22 campaign. It’s win or go home for the Jazz, facing elimination as the Mavericks hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“I don’t want to go home,” Mitchell said. “Got to go out there and give it all you’ve got and play like there’s no tomorrow, because at the end of the day tomorrow is not promised.”
If the Jazz lose to the Mavericks on Thursday night they’ll be eliminated from playoff contention and could be facing an offseason full of turnover and turmoil.
On the other hand, if the Jazz were to win Game 6 and force a Game 7, they could be the third consecutive team to hand the Mavericks a first-round exit.