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Donovan Mitchell out until start of playoffs for Jazz

Michael Holley and Michael Smith reflect on Russell Westbrook’s career, as the point guard is only one triple double away from tying Oscar Robertson on the NBA’s all-time list.

Utah is still fighting for the top seed in the West (and the NBA) with Phoenix.

While Utah wants that crown, what matters more is being fully healthy come the start of the playoffs. Which is why Donovan Mitchell — still recovering from a sprained ankle — will sit out the remainder of the regular season, the Jazz announced Tuesday.

With the Jazz not part of the play-in games, it means another five or six days of rest between the end of the regular season and their first playoff game (May 22 at the earliest). Utah coach Quin Snyder noted previously that gives the team more time to work Mitchell back in with the starters: “There’s a little larger window, so you can get some of that in a practice setting.”

Mitchell sprained his ankle against the Pacers back on April 16 and has been out since. Utah has gone 8-5 without Mitchell, but that undersells how well they have performed: The Jazz have a league-best +10.5 net rating in those 13 games (stats via Cleaning the Glass, which filters out garbage time). Utah’s defense has remained spectacular, second best in the NBA, but the offense has still been top 10 without Mitchell, as well as point guard Mike Conley for much of that time.

Expect to see both Mitchell and Conley back when the playoffs start. The question is how healthy they will be and how well they will be moving.

Mitchell played his best basketball of the season right before turning his ankle, averaging 36.8 points per game in the five games before the injury.