Jazz Star Donovan Mitchell has NSFW Response to Injury vs. Clippers

Donovan Mitchell, middle, and the Clippers' Paul George

Getty Donovan Mitchell, middle, and the Clippers' Paul George

In what has been an NBA playoff season marred by injuries, maybe the Clippers are finally catching a break. Just as their superstar leading scorer, Kawhi Leonard, went down with a knee injury that is likely to keep him out for the remainder of the conference semifinals, and perhaps longer, their second-round opponent appears to be in a similarly difficult situation.

Utah’s Donovan Mitchell is battling an ankle injury that is keeping the normally high-flying guard a bit more grounded.

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In a stunning development, the Clippers fought through the Leonard injury to win Game 5 against the Jazz in Utah, giving the team a 3-2 lead and putting it on the verge of a trip to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history.

Much of that fell on Mitchell, who took only three shots in the paint in Game 5 and missed two of them. He was 6-for-19 overall and effectively turned himself into a jump-shooter, making just four out of 14 3-point attempts. During the regular season, Mitchell averaged 8.6 shots per game in the paint and 8.7 3-point attempts.

He blamed the ankle.

“It’s something I’m going to have to deal with,” Mitchell said after the game. “I mean, it f***ing sucks. I ain’t got nothing else to say.”


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Donovan Mitchell: ‘I’ve Had to Play on the Floor’

Mitchell did, however, have much more to say, explaining how he usually can rely on his explosiveness to attack defenses as a whole and beat individual defenders. That ability has disappeared because of the ankle.

Here’s how Mitchell addressed it:

For most of my life I’ve been able to push by, explode by, and jump through people or over people, and for the first time in my career, I’ve had to play on the floor. So being able to not to just, knowing when to attack, picking my spots, finding my teammates, I think that’s the biggest thing, being able to kind of get off, hit them when they’re doubling me and engaging the blitz. And I think I did a solid job of that, I can do better, it’s a learning process and it sucks that I’m learning this through the playoffs, but it is what it is and no excuses. So just being able to kind of bait the blitz, know when to attack and just kind of slow down a little bit, I think that’s what I’ve been doing throughout the entire playoffs because obviously can’t really move.

And, yes, the pain and inability to play the way he wants left him more than a little bitter. He dropped a handful of F-bombs throughout his postgame presser. The Jazz entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the entire league and now are on the verge of elimination, a reality that seemed to strike Mitchell on Wednesday night:

Like it’s tough when you’re trying different things that you normally do and you see spots you can get to, but you can’t, so you got to find a way to make it happen. It’s tough, but I got to find a way, otherwise I’m going to be home. And I said it last year, that we didn’t do all this — and I said during the year — we didn’t do all this to lose in the second round, so we got to figure it the fuck out, otherwise, that’s it. Excuse my language.

Here, by the way, is the play, two months ago, when Mitchell originally injured the ankle.

 


Paul George, Marcus Morris Shine in Game 5 Win

As for the Clippers, life without Leonard went well enough, at least in the first go-round. The Clippers fell behind by double-digits in the first half but rallied to seize the lead in the second half, thanks largely to a 23-9 push to start the third quarter, erasing a five-point halftime deficit.

The Clippers were led in that stretch by eight points each from Marcus Morris and Paul George, with Terance Mann adding seven of his own. Morris finished with 25 points, a career high in the playoffs. George had 37 points, plus 16 rebounds and five assists.

“I knew I had to be big tonight and got to be big going forward,” George said. “It was just no secret coming into this, and you know, I just first put faith in God, believed in myself. My teammates trusted me. T-Lue trusted me. And you know, I thought we just lived in the moment and we just played our hearts out tonight.”

 

 

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