TORONTO – The reeling Toronto Raptors may be getting much-needed help.
Gary Trent Jr., who missed two games with a deep bruise on his right calf, practiced Wednesday and could return to the lineup when the Raptors host the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.
The bad news, however, is that OG Anunoby, whose excellent play was abruptly cut short by a hip injury that left him without playing seven games in a row, did not participate in practice, nor did Khem Birch (knee swelling).
“OG is not ready for tomorrow,” coach Nick Nurse said in delivering the sad news.
The Raptors have already been hit hard by injuries this young NBA season, missing Pascal Siakam for the first 10 games, and now Anunoby and Birch.
We deeply miss the big man pair, as Toronto (9-13) has slipped in the rankings to 12th in the Eastern Conference. They have won just three of their last 13 games and are unusually terrible 2-8 at home this season.
Nurse has no explanation as to why his team has done better on the road.
“I don’t know,” he said. “We have, in general, some really good road players. Kyle (Lowry) was a great player on the road. We have had a true bonding mentality on the road, a true bravery on the road. I guess this year we also have more times than we have at home, that’s for sure. “
Is it easier to play on the road?
Omicron Bypass: Canada Extends Travel Ban, Seeks Booster Guide
US Reports First Omicron Variant Case As Officials Examine Travel Rules
“I think it may be,” Nurse said. “Once the ball comes up, apparently it should be more difficult with the crowd and all that. Pregame things can be more difficult at home. “
Missing Anunoby, Birch and Trent, the Raptors struggled to build offense in a nasty 98-91 loss to Memphis on Tuesday night that saw huge bags of empty seats at Scotiabank Arena before the final bell rang.
Always excellent on the defensive end, Anunoby had become a key cog in Toronto’s offense this season. He led the team in scoring with 20.1 points before injuring his hip in practice on Nov. 17, a day after scoring 29 points against Portland.
To make matters worse, the hip pointer (pain and / or bruising on the top or front of the hip bone usually caused by a direct hit) appears more severe than perhaps originally thought. He “hit a wall” in his recovery, Nurse said earlier this week, and his hip is not healing as well as the team hoped.
Fred VanVleet, who had 15 points and nine rebounds in Tuesday’s loss, was asked how difficult it is to build offense without key players.
“I would love to have an answer for you,” VanVleet said. “I would say it is a long season. It’s a five- or six-month season, the playoffs are even longer. So you just worry about ‘can you create the take?’
“There will be nights in which they enter, there will be nights in which we score 140 points. There will be nights where you score 80, or 39 in the middle. It will happen “.
VanVleet said the pain of losing at home was not significantly more acute than a loss on the road.
“It’s disappointing to lose, it really has nothing to do with playing at home to be honest with you. We could play on Pluto as far as I’m concerned, it’s disappointing to waste time, “he said. “We hope to win around here, we have high standards and that is not going to change.”
The Raptors, who are ranked 13th in the league in offensive efficiency and 24th in defensive efficiency, are hopeful they can turn things around at home as 10 of their 13 games in December are at Scotiabank Arena.
On the bright side, the season is still young and the Raptors are just two and a half games away from the tournament entry.
This Canadian Press report was first published on December 1, 2021.
© 2021 The Canadian Press