Jazz Players, Fans Show Donovan Mitchell Love In Return To Utah
SALT LAKE CITY – Donovan Mitchell received a warm welcome during his pregame routine as he made his return against facing the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night.
Mitchell’s return to Vivint Arena marked his first game in Salt Lake City since the Jazz traded him to the Cleveland Cavaliers last September.
The superstar guard was greeted upon taking the floor by members of the Jazz organization including owner Ryan Smith, general manager Justin Zanik, and former teammate Jordan Clarkson.
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Mitchell went through his traditional pregame routine before leaving the floor some 30 minutes before the game was set to tip-off.
As Mitchell headed back to the Cavaliers locker room, he was swarmed by adoring Jazz fans looking to get their memorabilia signed by the former face of the franchise.
Mitchell paused and signed a number of jerseys and shoes for fans before leaving the floor.
— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) January 11, 2023
Bickerstaff, Hardy Expect Emotional Game
Though Mitchell didn’t speak with the media before the game, both Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff and Jazz coach Will Hardy said they expected it to be an emotional game.
“There’s obviously going to be emotions involved on both sides,” Bickerstaff said. “Donovan did a lot here, they had some really good teams. Their fan base is a great fan base that’s really bought into what they do and pour their hearts into their team so there’s going to be emotions on both sides of it. Our job is to try to go and prepare as best we possibly can.”
Mitchell is in the midst of a career year with the Cavaliers averaging a personal-best 28.8 points per game for the fourth-seeded Cleveland team.
Hardy meanwhile said while there will be high emotions leading up to the game, he expects that to dissipate after the opening tip.
“I’ve been a part of one of these situations before in San Antonio and to be honest, I feel like there’s always a lot of noise and talk from the exterior,” Hardy said. “I think when the game comes, the second the ball goes up, it’s just another NBA game. You try not to overly focus on it because two and a half hours after tip-off it’s going to be over and you’re moving on.”
Utah Jazz vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Broadcast
The Utah Jazz and Cleveland Cavaliers will tip off at 7 pm MT in Salt Lake City. The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. It can also be streamed on DirecTV Stream and FuboTV.
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