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Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said guard Donovan Mitchell was feeling a bit under the weather during his monster performance against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series Tuesday.
According to Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune, Snyder said: “He’s really competitive, but he’s also really determined. I don’t think he was feeling great—a little nauseous, a little light-headed—and he’s just not going to accept that. There’s nothing he’s going to let get in the way of that.”
Despite the apparent issues Mitchell was dealing with, he still managed to put up a game-high 45 points on 16-of-30 shooting to go along with five assists and three rebounds in top-seeded Utah’s big win.
Per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, Mitchell said after the game that he wasn’t necessarily 100 percent going in:
“Yeah, I was definitely feeling it a little bit, but sometimes you’ve just got to dig deep into a different place. I was getting my ass kicked individually in the first half on both ends of the floor. I wasn’t making the right reads. Luke [Kennard] hit a bunch of shots on me, Reggie [Jackson] hit a bunch of shots on me and there were situations where I was being lazy and letting that fatigue kind of get to me.
“So, I came into halftime and just said, ‘Look, I’m just going to have to find a way.'”
Mitchell was just 5-of-14 from the field and the Jazz were trailing by 13 at the break, but he turned it on in the second half, making 11 of his 16 tries from the floor.
While Mitchell’s health has been a topic of conversation throughout the playoffs, Snyder said the ankle ailment that kept him out of Game 1 of Utah’s first-round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies is fine, per Mark Medina of USA Today.
The Jazz are now 5-0 in these playoffs when Mitchell is in the lineup and 0-1 when he isn’t, further underscoring his importance.
Utah was without another key player in guard Mike Conley on Tuesday because of a hamstring injury, prompting Mitchell to step up even more as a ball-handler in his absence.
Against a Clippers team that saw Kawhi Leonard dominate during the first round of the playoffs against the Dallas Mavericks, Mitchell was far and away the best player on the floor in Game 1.
The Clippers remain a highly dangerous team with Leonard and Paul George leading the way, but if Mitchell continues to play at this level and Conley returns to the fold soon, the Jazz may be the team to beat in the Western Conference.