NBA

What’s Fueling Donovan Mitchell’s Historic Playoff Run?

Scoring 50 points in the postseason doesn’t appear to be a rare feat for Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell, the Utah Jazz young phenom, is coming off a 51-point effort Sunday when the Jazz took a 3-1 series lead over the Denver Nuggets. Mitchell’s 51-point performance came after he put up 57 points in the first game of the series. Mitchell is on a mission this season, and he recently explained what’s motivating his during the playoffs of 2020.

Donovan Mitchell a steal for the Utah Jazz in the 2017 NBA draft

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Donovan Mitchell played two seasons of college basketball at Louisville. He was a solid player for the Cardinals, but his numbers weren’t eye-popping. In his freshman season, he averaged 7.4 points per game. As a sophomore, Mitchell blossomed and finished the season with a 15.6 points-per-game average.

Mitchell opted to enter the NBA draft after his sophomore season. He was selected by the Utah Jazz in the first round of the 2017 NBA draft. The 6-foot-1 guard was taken with the 13th overall pick. Mitchell wasted no time in making his mark in the NBA as he averaged better than 20 points in his rookie season while playing 79 games, starting 71.

Mitchell showed his first season in the NBA was no fluke. The 6-foot-1 guard followed up his rookie season by improving his numbers in nearly every category. Mitchell averaged 23.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.2 assists in his sophomore year. This season he was named as an NBA All-Star for the first time, again improving his numbers. During the regular season, Mitchell put up 24 points, 4.3 assists, and 4.4 rebounds per game.

Mitchell lighting it up during the playoffs

As great as Donovan Mitchell was during the regular season, he’s turned things up significantly in the playoffs this year. In his first playoff game this season, Mitchell put up 57 points. His Herculean effort, however, wasn’t enough as the Denver Nuggets took the series opener.

The Jazz have since bounced back and won the next three games. In Game 4, Mitchell lit it up once again. He scored 51 points, outscoring Denver’s Jamal Murray’s 50 as the Jazz took a 3-1 series lead. It was the first time that two opposing players scored at least 50 points in a game during the postseason.

According to USA Today, Mitchell joined Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to score at least 50 points multiple times in the same postseason. “I’ve got a lot of work to do to catch up to those guys,” Mitchell said. Jordan, Iverson, and Mitchell are the only ones to do it in the same series.

Mitchell explains what’s fueling his playoff outburst

Donovan Mitchell’s recent playoff success is personal, he said. The Utah Jazz were sent home in the first round, and he isn’t about to let it happen again. He also said he knows his personal performance in last year’s postseason was far from what’s expected of himself and he isn’t letting that happen again either.

“It’s no secret that last year’s playoffs wasn’t my best,” said Mitchell, according to ESPN. “And I took that personally, and I am going to trust my work and keep moving forward.” He said he heard a lot of negativity after last year’s playoff exit and he’s using it as motivation.

“I love hearing negative things about me,” Mitchell said. “The knock on me has been inefficient, not a team player, whatever it is. I pride myself on being a team player, on being a playmaker. I’ve said it a thousand times, and I am going to continue to do that. … Fifty is what it is, but I am more happy that I got seven assists.”