Donovan Mitchell Travels With Jazz To Face Dallas Mavericks
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz are preparing to face the Dallas Mavericks on Monday with a full starting lineup in their arsenal.
The team is facing the Mavericks with their traditional starting five for the first time since the team’s charter flight hit a flock of birds shortly after take-off en route to face the Memphis Grizzlies, forcing an emergency landing.
The troubling ordeal caused serious anguish for players throughout the roster, including guard Donovan Mitchell who opted to stay in Salt Lake City after the first failed flight.
Mitchell Discusses Fear Of Flying
On Tuesday, the team’s plane undertook significant damage to the nose and engine after a bird strike shortly after takeoff. Though the team returned to the ground safely, there was a moment in time that Jazz players and coaches were unsure of their wellbeing.
“I texted my mom, my dad, my sister just let them know, this could be it,” Mitchell said Friday before the Jazz win over the Chicago Bulls. “That’s a scary thought, saying I love you guys, literally writing what could have been your last words.”
The players returned to their homes to await the arrival of another charter plane, though Mitchell wasn’t on the second flight to Memphis.
“I just needed to take that time because it just wasn’t sitting right with me to go on the trip,” Mitchell said. “My teammates and my coaches and everybody respected that and I appreciate the support.”
The Jazz beat the Grizzlies 111-107 despite the All-Star guard’s absence. On Friday, Mitchell returned to the lineup and led the Jazz with 26 points in their 113-106 victory over Chicago.
The guard said before playing the Bulls that he intended to join the team in Dallas.
“I have a job to do,” Mitchell said. “I understand that that comes with the job. I took the time that I needed to mentally get myself in a good place. I’ll be fine come Sunday.”
Mavericks Host Jazz In Homecoming Game
While the Jazz may be road weary after last week’s debacle, the Mavericks will be happy to be back home playing in the American Airlines Center.
Dallas is returning home after a successful five-game road trip that included stops in New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Boston, New York, and Washington. The Mavericks finished the trip 4-1.
The trip represents the final extended getaway for the Mavericks whose 27 road games are tied with the Golden State Warriors for the most in the Western Conference. Upon returning home the Maverick will play 15 of their final 24 games at home with a chance to make up ground in the Western Conference playoff chase.
As it stands, the Mavericks own the seventh seed in the West and would be poised for a first-round matchup against the Phoenix Suns in the postseason.
Dallas is however within three losses of the third-seeded Los Angeles Clippers and could climb the conference standings with a home-heavy schedule to close the season.
The key matchup will pit the Jazz’s Mitchell against Mavericks guard Josh Richardson. While superstar Luka Doncic will the key feature of the Dallas offense, Mitchell will have to negate the advantage generated by the Slovenian star with a big performance of his own.
The Jazz guard didn’t appear in either of the two teams’ first matchups this season, both Jazz wins at home in back-to-back games. Mitchell had experienced concussion-like symptoms after taking multiple blows to the head against the Knicks two nights earlier and sat out the games.
Richardson meanwhile will be tasked with slowing Mitchell. The Dallas guard has started all 39 games for the Mavericks this season averaging 12.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists while providing an extra defender to aid Doncic.
Richardson has struggled to shoot from the perimeter this season, connecting on a career-low 32 percent from beyond the arc.
The Jazz and Mavericks will tip-off at 5 pm MT to avoid interference with the NCAA National Championship game and be broadcast on AT&T SportsNet.
Utah Jazz Scoreboard
Utah Jazz Team Leaders
Utah Jazz Standings