Toronto Raptors defence goes M.I.A. without O.G. Anunoby on the floor

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When it comes to O.G. Anunoby, the versatile defender who has a knack for draining spot-up threes, he has been dealt a tough hand.

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Ironically, it was a knee injury at Indiana that caused Anunoby to fall in the draft, allowing the Raptors to select the small forward with the 23rd overall pick in 2017.

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When healthy, he’s among the league’s elite defenders, whose offence continues to expand.

However, he has missed the past two games because of a lacerated finger on his right hand suffered at home.

During his media availability Thursday, Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic told reporters his primary defender required stitches.

Barring some dramatic turn of event, Anunoby will miss his third game in a row Friday night when Boston comes to town. For the record, Anunoby is listed as doubtful for the Celtics tip, but it’s never encouraging when a player is limited to shooting and dribbling with his off hand.

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As a rookie in 2017, Anunoby appeared in 74 games, a total he has yet to reach again. In fact, he has appeared in fewer than 50 games twice during his career.

Clearly, his absence was sorely missed when Milwaukee visited Toronto on Wednesday night and scored at will.

Toronto had no answer for Damian Lillard, who was either able to heave shots off good looks from the perimeter or attack the rim with impunity on pick-and-roll sets.

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Jacob Poeltl is a lot of things, but he’s not a perimeter defender. Whether it was reacting slowly or not reading the sequence properly, Poeltl, to his credit, said he has to do a better job.

When Anunoby is healthy and fully engaged, the Raptors aren’t as vulnerable on defence.

Toronto’s four-game homestand began Monday night when Washington scored 64 points and led by as many as 23 before the Raptors got their act together in the fourth quarter to emerge with a 111-107 win.

Against the Bucks, the Raptors trailed by 15 points after the opening quarter and allowed Milwaukee to score 70 by the break.

Anunoby’s value to the team is quite obvious. In many ways, he’s indispensable because without him the Raptors are too susceptible to the point of being defensively inept.

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