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Jazz star Donovan Mitchell practices, expects to play Game 1

Mitchell was dealing with an ankle injury late in the season, but should be ready for the top-seeded Jazz in Game 1.

Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz warms up before the game against the Portland Trail Blazers on May 12, 2021 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz warms up before the game against the Portland Trail Blazers on May 12, 2021 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

The No. 1 seed Utah Jazz appear to have their superstar back in time for the playoffs.

Donovan Mitchell, who missed the final 16 games of the regular season with an ankle injury, is expected to return for Utah’s first game. Mitchell practiced and said his goal is to play in Game 1. He is averaging 26.4 points, 5.2 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game this season.

The Jazz were dealing with injuries to Mitchell and Mike Conley heading into the postseason, but both appeared on track to return for the start of the playoffs. Mitchell practicing and saying he is ready to go is a good sign for Utah, who has the third best odds to win the West at +350 and the fifth best chance to win the title at +700.

Utah will meet the winner of the last play-in tournament game between the Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies. The Jazz went 1-2 against the Warriors in the regular season and 3-0 vs. Memphis.

If Mitchell and Conley were to suffer setbacks for their respective injuries, Utah has some backcourt depth. Jordan Clarkson, a contender for Sixth Man of the Year, would take on additional minutes and Joe Ingles has the ball-handling skills to handle point guard duties. It appears the Jazz will be at full strength entering Game 1, but expect the team to monitor Mitchell’s workload as he returns from injury.