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Raptors optimistic Anunoby could return during Finals

Toronto Raptors wing OG Anunoby has missed the entirety of the postseason after having an appendectomy April 12, but it’s possible he could return during the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, according to Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun:

Per sources, the Raptors are quietly optimistic that they’ll get OG Anunoby back at some point vs. Warriors in the NBA Finals. They don’t know for sure, but spacing of games should help. Also long breaks between most games helps Kawhi quite a bit.

One good sign regarding Anunboy’s recovery was his workout before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday.

Anunoby, 21, averaged seven points and 2.9 rebounds in 20.2 minutes per game this season, appearing in 67 overall contests. But he did take a step back in two key areas from his promising rookie season: overall shooting (from 47.1 percent as a rookie to 45.3 percent this year) and three-point shooting (from 37.1 percent to 33.2 percent).

Nonetheless, his return would give the Raptors another solid defender on the wing and another body to throw at Kevin Durant if the Warriors superstar is able to return to action in the Finals.

That could ease the burden on Kawhi Leonard, who has not only carried the Raptors’ offense throughout the postseason but has also often been asked to guard an opponent’s best perimeter player. Leonard’s ability to suffocate Giannis Antetokounmpo was a huge factor in Toronto beating the Milwaukee Bucks, and if Toronto wins a title, it will be behind his two-way excellence.

Final numbers for Giannis when guarded by Kawhi in ECF:
– 12-34 FG
– 1-7 from 3
– 5 assists
– 5 turnovers
– 30 points on 160 possessions
– 89.4 offensive rating

He might have been better against Giannis in this series than he was against LeBron in 2014 NBA Finals.

When Kawhi slowed down LeBron in 2014 Finals, he did it while posting a usage rate of 20% on the other end which ranked 5th on the Spurs in that series.

When Kawhi slowed down Giannis in 2019 ECF, he posted a usage pct of 31% which is nearly a LeBron in the Finals type of load.

The Raptors won’t beat the Warriors by being the better offensive team. If they win, it will be behind defense, and Anunoby will help in that regard, even if it’s for small stretches.

It’s possible, of course, that he’ll only play a small role if he returns at all for this series. He hasn’t played since mid-April, after all. But the possibility that he could return is nonetheless good news for a Toronto team seeking to pull off yet another upset and become improbable champions.

Courtesy: Bleacher Report

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