Tuesday, November 30 2021
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OG Anunoby will miss the Toronto Raptors‘ game against the Utah Jazz on Thursday with a hip pointer, and don’t expect him to return anytime soon. “According to (vice president of player health and performance) Alex McKechnie, it’ll be a while,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse told reporters, via the Toronto Star‘s Doug Smith

Anunoby, 24, has spent the early part of the season acclimating himself to a new, more demanding role. He’s averaging a career-high 20.1 points in a career-high 37.1 minutes on a career-low 53.4 percent true shooting, with a career-high 23.4 percent usage rate. Anunoby played 41 minutes in the Raptors’ 118-113 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday, the fourth time this season he has crossed the 40-minute mark. He is Toronto’s leading scorer, and, while the team has taken a by-committee approach to playmaking this year, Anunoby has shot the ball more frequently than anybody on the team.

The injury will prevent the Raptors from establishing some continuity with their starters. Pascal Siakam returned from shoulder surgery on Nov. 7, sliding into the starting lineup next to Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., Scottie Barnes and Anunoby, but that fivesome has yet to play together for more than two consecutive games. (Siakam sat on the second night of a back-to-back in Philadelphia on Nov. 11 and VanVleet was sidelined with a groin injury when Toronto hosted Detroit a couple of days later.) Losing Anunoby is particularly challenging because he is the kind of player who can serve as connective tissue for his teammates — he has shooting gravity away from the ball, and he can guard every position. 

If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that this might encourage Siakam to be more scoring-minded than he has been in his first four games. Some more playmaking opportunities should naturally trickle down to VanVleet and Barnes, too, and reserves like Svi Mykhailiuk, Chris Boucher and Khem Birch will fight for extra minutes. It remains unclear when Yuta Watanabe, who has missed the entire season with a leg injury, might be healthy enough to play.  

“Pascal’s got to kind of fill in there for OG, a little bit more like he’s probably used to,” Nurse said, via the Star. “And Khem and Chris gotta bring it; they’re going to have to bring a good 25 minutes each, 30 maybe, somewhere between 25 and 30 for those guys. And other guys got to bring it, too.”

Two weeks ago, the Raptors were on a five-game winning streak. It looked like they were going to extend it to six, too, before they squandered a lead in the final moments of a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Scotiabank Arena. Now they’ve lost five of six games, they have a 7-8 record and they’re presumably going to be shorthanded for the rest of this road trip. After Utah, they will visit Sacramento (on the second half of a back-to-back), Golden State, Memphis and Indiana. Consider this reminder No. 43982439832 that things change extremely quickly in the NBA

Source: CBSSports.com

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