RAPTORS BLOG: A long road trip could be huge for Toronto

Anunoby won’t be back yet, but they hope VanVleet will

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The Raptors were blessed with a four-game winning streak after a sweep to start the week against Brooklyn. They were facing two of the ugliest teams in the NBA after all in Detroit in Orlando. But guess what? Without Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby, the Raptors aren’t that good either, so the two losses shouldn’t have come as a surprise.

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Anunoby is the team’s best defender. He and Khem Birch are the most physical players on the roster and that physicality was lacking. VanVleet is as intractable as can be and they missed him on both defense and offense, as Malachi Flynn played pretty well.

Toronto was without two of its top three catch-and-shooters in VanVleet and Anunoby and it showed, especially with the other top threat on those attempts, Gary Trent Jr., going 6 for 23 from the field. in both games.

And it looks to be getting worse ahead of a very long road trip against a tough group of opponents. VanVleet is still messed up. Anunoby won’t be in a rush and now Flynn, playing the best basketball of his career, is questionable with his own injury. The Raptors don’t return to Toronto until March 18. Like many people, they will be marching out of town.

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Stealing a win from Cleveland would be nice, as there could be implications down the line with both teams trying to avoid the play-in tournament. But Cleveland is gigantic, the Raptors haven’t bothered to get a real center for this season and again the physical Anunoby won’t play. It will be difficult.

But at least the first six games in eight nights for the Raptors since 2012 are behind them.

I don’t know how revealing that stretch was, but this one might be.

ANCIENT RAPTOR OF THE NIGHT:

DeMar DeRozan:

Chicago lost to Milwaukee, but not because of DeRozan. DeMar had 29 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds and even hit two three-pointers. That’s at least two threes in three of DeRozan’s last four games. He had done this six times in the year so far.

NIGHT CANADIAN:

Chris Boucher:

One of the slowest nights of the season for the Canadiens. But Boucher had 7 points and 9 rebounds in 20 minutes in the loss to Orlando and that was about as good as it gets.

THREE STARS

1Pascal Siakam

2 Malachi Flynn

3 Cole Anthony

THREE STARS AGAINST PISTONS

1Cade Cunningham

2Pascal Siakam

3 Scottie Barnes

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