Portland, Ore. • In the aftermath of his 5-for-26 shooting night in Wednesday’s win against the Golden State Warriors, Donovan Mitchell said he planned to head right over the Zions Bank Basketball Campus practice facility and hoist some shots up.
Before Friday’s game at the Moda Center against the Blazers, he acknowledged he didn’t wind up doing that, but said it didn’t matter because he remains confident in what he can do.
Coach Quin Snyder certainly doesn’t want a night like that to make his guard at all reluctant to keep getting shots up in actual games.
“Donovan has to do a lot for our team, and I think the key thing for Donovan is being aggressive. Our team knows that we need him to be aggressive, and sometimes that means he’s gonna end up taking some tougher shots,” Snyder said. “Our guys have confidence in him. Last game, he had a tough shooting night, but he had six assists. If he’s not aggressive, looking to score, he’s not opening things up for other people.”
Snyder acknowledged the rarity of a player as new to the league as Mitchell being a team’s unquestioned go-to option on offense, noting, “That puts a lot on his back.”
That said, he doesn’t intend to lighten Mitchell’s load.
“No. He’s gotta play, he’s got to attack, he’s our guy. You start questioning that … He’s fine,” Snyder said. “We won a game when he didn’t shoot great. And he’s gonna not shoot great at times. But there’s been plenty of games where he’s had a rough night, and the last 6 minutes of the game — bam, bam. He’s capable of doing that for us, and that’s what we want. Myself and everybody’s got confidence in him.”
For his part, Mitchell said the shooting numbers don’t bother him — he scored three points on 1-of-10 shooting in Friday’s 120-90 win — so long as he’s finding ways to contribute.
“I don’t care. If I made six more shots, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. For me, at the end of the day, it’s just making the shots and making the right plays,” he said. “I had six assists — but I had six turnovers, so it’s just finding ways to better myself in that area. I know what I can do, my teammates know what I can do — it’s just a matter of just getting better on a daily basis.”
Home and away
When the Jazz played the Heat on Dec. 12, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said he thought Utah’s record was effectively meaningless because the team had played so many more games on the road than at home.
On Friday night, Blazers coach Terry Stotts effectively espoused the same sentiment.
“With the schedule that they’ve had, it could be very similar to last year, where they’re gonna have a very strong second half of the season,” he said. “And they’re gonna be right in the mix of things.”
While he didn’t want to speak for Snyder, he said that in his own estimation, navigating a schedule that unbalanced can be challenging.
“What you hope, when you see that schedule come out in August, and you’re road-heavy early, you hope you have a mature enough team that can fight through the difficult patches,” Stotts said. “That’s the most difficult thing in the NBA, I think — you’re gonna have rough stretches, and keeping the team together and confident and positive, knowing that it’s gonna come around.”