NBA

NBA playoffs 2021: Donovan Mitchell embraces quieter life to give Jazz series lead

By Sports Desk May 30, 2021

A commitment from Donovan Mitchell to be less "exuberant" on the court helped the Utah Jazz take a 2-1 lead over the Memphis Grizzlies in their first-round playoff series.

Mitchell played just the second game of his return from injury on Saturday as Utah took the series lead with a 121-111 victory in Game 3.

After scoring 25 points on his return in Game 2, which came after a 17-game absence due to an ankle sprain, the 24-year-old shot 9-of-23 from the field to lead the scoring with 29 points.

Ten of those points came in a fourth quarter in which Memphis edged into a two-point lead for the first time in the contest with five minutes on the clock.

Mitchell, who scored two three-pointers in a strong Jazz finish, felt the benefit of having conserved some energy for the decisive moments.

"It's a long game," he said. "It's been a while and just getting back into it. That's really it.

"Understanding that trying to save your energy as much as possible, not needing to be as exuberant, I think that's the right word to use, but I think just not being as loud and kind of demonstrative in my movements."

Head coach Quin Snyder thought Mitchell's influence waned little despite his quieter approach.

"When you have a guy that has that much belief in his team-mates and that competitive fire, you know he's going to make some things happen," said Snyder.

"He's not going to be successful in every possession, but he was not going to be deterred either."

The Grizzlies edged the scoring 89-87 after the first quarter, but it was not enough to counter a poor start in front of more than 12,000 fans at their first home playoff game since April 2017.

"They made the plays down the stretch," coach Taylor Jenkins said. "Couldn't get the stops.

"The first quarter, we just didn't have the discipline. Too many breakdowns and they made us pay."

Game 4 is at FedExForum on Tuesday.

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