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Jazz star Donovan Mitchell returns to practice, expects to play Sunday

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (L) practiced Thursday for the first time since suffering a sprained right ankle more than a month ago. File Photo by CJ Gunther/EPA-EFE
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (L) practiced Thursday for the first time since suffering a sprained right ankle more than a month ago. File Photo by CJ Gunther/EPA-EFE

May 20 (UPI) -- Utah Jazz star guard Donovan Mitchell returned to practice Thursday for the first time since suffering a sprained right ankle more than a month ago.

Barring any setbacks, Mitchell said he plans to play in the Jazz's playoff opener Sunday against the winner of the Western Conference Play-In game between the Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies.

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"That's the goal," Mitchell told reporters. "Barring any setbacks, God forbid -- knock on wood -- that's the goal. I'm just trying to go out there and be there for my teammates and try to help to go out there and win a championship. That's the goal. It's been the goal all year."

The 24-year-old Mitchell, who averaged career bests of 26.4 points and 5.2 assists this season, missed the Jazz's past 16 games as Utah (52-20) clinched the NBA's best record and the No. 1 seed in the West.

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Mitchell sustained the ankle injury April 16 against the Indiana Pacers when he jumped to deflect a long outlet pass and landed awkwardly, with his foot coming down underneath Pacers guard Edmond Sumner.

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The two-time All-Star selection has ramped up his on-court activity in recent weeks, but he hadn't participated in full-contact action until Thursday. Mitchell said the ankle still felt sore but there was no significant pain.

"Practice was good," he said. "I got out there and competed. You could definitely tell it was the first time in four or five weeks, but that's to be expected. I'm just trying to find ways to get back in a groove."

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