Donovan Mitchell’s playoff legend continues to grow after Game 1.
In the first half of Game 1 in the Utah Jazz‘s second-round series against the LA Clippers, Donovan Mitchell couldn’t quite get it going. He had 13 points at the break, but they came on 5-of-14 shooting, including 2-for-8 from deep, and his team trailed by 13.
In the second half, however, Utah’s shooters came to life, Paul George‘s “Pandemic P” persona returned and the game totally changed.
The tectonic plate behind that seismic shift? Mitchell, whose second half damn near broke the Richter Scale at the Vivint Smart Home Arena Tuesday night.
In a 112-109 win to start this Western Conference semifinal series, Mitchell ignited for 32 points in the second half, shooting 11-for-16 from the field and 4-for-7 from 3-point range.
When all was said and done, the 24-year-old star finished his night was a game-high 45 points on 16-of-30 shooting, including 6-for-15 from 3-point range.
Donovan Mitchell’s playoff star continues to shine
It started right from the get-go in the third quarter, with Mitchell scoring Utah’s first 10 points.
He finished the quarter with 16, and the Jazz outscored Los Angeles 32-19 to completely erase that halftime deficit. Mitchell (16 points) nearly outscored the Clippers (19) by himself in the period, and he made as many field goals (six) on far fewer attempts (eight for Mitchell, 19 for LA).
The Clippers wouldn’t go away quietly, which is why it’s good for the Jazz that their star was up for the challenge in the fourth quarter too. He put up 16 more points in the final period, shooting 5-for-8 from the field to help his team close out Game 1 with a win.
For those who watched Mitchell in the NBA bubble last year, this is nothing surprising. In Orlando, he put up a staggering 36.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game on red-hot .529/.516/948 shooting splits.
The Jazz coughed up a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets in that first-round matchup, but no one could blame Mitchell, and that Nuggets team went on to do the same thing against the LA Clippers on its way to the Western Conference Finals.
In this year’s first round, the Jazz didn’t need too much out of Spida, but he still delivered 28.5 points and 5.8 assists in just 30 minutes per game, all while shooting 45 percent from the floor, 40 percent from downtown and 90.3 percent from the foul line. In related news, Utah lost Game 1 without its best player, but largely steamrolled the Memphis Grizzlies over the next four with him back.
The first two playoff runs of Mitchell’s career were hardly the pinnacle of efficiency, but last year — and the early results so far in this postseason — show a player who’s grown accustomed to delivering big-time performances when his team needs them most. The Jazz may not be the NBA’s sexiest team, but Mitchell makes them must-watch TV in the playoffs, and in a league littered with young superstars who are balling out in their first or second postseasons, nobody should overlook what Spida is doing now that he’s pitted against a legitimate title contender.