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Raptors’ Anunoby hopes to return during Finals

TORONTO — After missing the Toronto Raptors‘ playoff run to the NBA Finals after undergoing an emergency appendectomy last month, forward OG Anunoby said Wednesday he has begun taking contact and hopes to return to the court at some point against the Golden State Warriors.

“It’s been hard, not being able to play,” Anunoby said during his Finals media day availability. “But I’ve been learning as much as I can, and trying to take it as a learning experience.”

Wednesday marked the first time Anunoby has spoken to the media since the team announced he had undergone the surgery on April 11 — two days before Toronto opened its playoff run against the Orlando Magic.

Since then, he has watched as Toronto progressed through the playoffs without him. But after spending a large part of the playoffs healing from his surgery, Anunoby is now able to do some physical work.

“I’m still on my way back to that,” Anunoby said of participating in a full practice. “I’ve been practicing, getting shots up, stuff like that.

“[I’ve done] a little bit of contact stuff. Some conditioning, and a lot of shooting.”

It appears, based on Anunoby’s comments and activity level increasing, that he could return to the active roster sometime early in this series, though it’s hard to see him getting huge minutes even if he does. He is questionable for Game 1 on Thursday night.

“Just be able to switch on defense, and offensively to be able to shoot and pass,” Anunoby said, when asked what his role would be if he returned.

“He’s doing better,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said after Monday’s practice. “He’s on the court. He’s moving around. I think he’s healed. Not quite 100 percent, but healing really well. And I talked to [Toronto’s director of sports science] Alex McKechnie today, and he said it’s probably still about 10 days away from playing.”

That would put Anunoby on pace to play in Game 3 next week in Oakland, California. After a promising rookie year, Anunoby’s season has been a long series of setbacks and roadblocks, with his appendectomy just being the latest one.

At this point, he’ll just take getting a chance to get back on the court, and trying to help the Raptors win their first NBA title.

“Yeah, it’s boring,” Anunoby said of being forced to watch from the sideline, “but you can’t control it.”

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