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Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell practices, eyes Game 1 return

Apr 16, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) is helped off the court after suffering an apparent injury during the second half against the Indiana Pacers at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 16, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) is helped off the court after suffering an apparent injury during the second half against the Indiana Pacers at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell practiced Thursday for the first time since his ankle injury and the two-time All-Star is expecting to play in the team’s playoff opener this weekend.

The top-seeded Jazz on Sunday will host the winner of Friday’s play-in game between Golden State and Memphis.

“That’s the goal. Barring any setbacks, god forbid — knock on wood — that’s the goal,” Mitchell said. “I’m just trying to go out there and be there for my teammates and try to help to go out there and win a championship. That’s the goal. It’s been the goal all year.”

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Mitchell, an All-Star the past two seasons, suffered the injury in Utah’s victory over the Indiana Pacers on April 16. He missed the Jazz’s last 16 games of the regular season.

Mitchell, 24, whom the Jazz selected with the 13th pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, was averaging a career-best 26.4 points per game. He was also averaging 5.2 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game.

“Practice was good,” Mitchell said. “I got out there and competed. You could definitely tell it was the first time in four or five weeks, but that’s to be expected. I’m just trying to find ways to get back in a groove.”

–Field Level Media