After dropping Game 1 of their playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night, it's safe to say the Utah Jazz certainly could've used All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell on the floor. After being a late scratch from Game 1 due to his ankle sprain, the Jazz announced Monday morning that Mitchell will be available for Game 2 Wednesday night.
This comes after a report surfaced earlier on Monday that Mitchell was upset with Utah's medical staff's decision to hold him out of Game 1, per ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Tim MacMahon.
"Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell was incensed at the late decision to scratch him from Sunday's playoff opener and it deepened tensions with the team regarding his recovery from a right ankle sprain."
Mitchell hasn't played for the Jazz since April 16 due to that right ankle sprain. He practiced for the first time since his injury on May 20, and even participated in shootaround with the team Sunday morning. "I'm ready to go," Mitchell said at the time. "No pain. I'm excited to get going." Ultimately, the team made him a late scratch, which was certainly a surprise, including to some of the players on the Jazz, per Windhorst.
"I try to stay out of all of this, because it's just going to give me a headache," Rudy Gobert said. "Hopefully, he's good for next game. That's all I'm worried about."
Luckily for Gobert and the Jazz, it sounds like Mitchell will be suiting up for Game 2, which significantly changes the dynamic of this series. Utah lost by just three points without Mitchell, as Bogdan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley shouldered a majority of the offensive load in the tightly-contested game. Getting Mitchell back will only add more firepower to Utah's offense, and make things easier on other players around him.
In regards to the "deepened tensions" between Mitchell and the franchise, that isn't ideal for a team already trying to put the Mitchell-Gobert rift behind them. Gobert's positive COVID-19 test in March 2020 is what led to the league shutting down for four months, and Mitchell was unhappy with his All-Star big man for not taking the virus seriously in the lead up to his positive test. The two didn't speak for a period of time, but it appeared as though they put it behind them with the common goal of winning a championship this season in mind.
With Mitchell back in the lineup, any off-court, behind-the-scenes issues may exist between him and the franchise can be put on hold for now as the Jazz work toward evening up the series with Memphis and moving forward in the playoffs.