Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz aren’t the only team experiencing regret from how their tenure in the NBA bubble ended. Some, though, will be content for the offseason time off to disconnect and regroup before the start of another season.
“We’re ready for the season to start, next month if it had to,” Mitchell said Friday in an appearance on ESPN’s The Jump. “I think we’re fired up, and I think that’s the proper mindset to have.”
Because of the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic — which resulted in the NBA having a four-month break in the middle of its schedule and the NBA Finals taking place during what typically is the league’s preseason — next season is unlikely to begin until January, at the earliest. But because of the way Utah’s season ended, Mitchell said the Jazz are eager to get back on the floor.
“I think for myself and a lot of the guys on the team — all of the guys, I should say, and coaches — we’re ready to go,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell and the Jazz have had more than five weeks to process their ouster by the Denver Nuggets in a seven-game Western Conference semifinals in which Utah not only held a 3-1 series lead but led the second half of a potential series-clinching Game 5 by 15.
Utah also blew a lead in Game 1, and Game 7 wasn’t decided until the final buzzer sounded, when Mike Conley’s 3-point attempt spun out of the rim.
Mitchell said the sting lingers, and as recently as Thursday, the Jazz discussed their feelings on a conference call.
“When you live in that mindset it fuels you,” Mitchell said. “It fuels me.”
Mitchell said he watched the play of Nuggets guard Jamal Murray to incorporate aspects of Murray’s game into his own before Denver’s elimination by the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals.
“Those guys really did their thing,” Mitchell said. “But at the end of the day it really kind of pisses you off, I’m not going to lie. You know, we were right there. At the end of the day, that’s what it is — we were right there.”
Information from ESPN’s Tim Bontemps was used in this report.