On per week that started with Jamal Murray’s second 50-point outing in three video games, it is laborious to imagine the Canadian basketball highlight has already been stolen by Lu Dort, Steve Nash and OG Anunoby.
But right here we’re.
Abruptly, between Murray, Dort and not too long ago named NBA coach of the yr Nick Nurse, Canada’s Olympic medal hopes have been rekindled as soon as once more.
And with Bridget Carleton’s breakout WNBA season, together with Natalie Achonwa’s veteran savvy and Kia Nurse’s studying expertise as a prime choice, the ladies — who’ve certified already, in contrast to the boys — are eyeing the rostrum too.
On Wednesday, Dort — a rookie who averaged 6.eight factors per recreation within the common season — exploded for 30 in Recreation 7, just for his Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder to fall by two factors to the Houston Rockets.
The Montreal native’s efficiency broke LeBron James’ earlier mark of 27 Recreation 7 factors for a participant below 22 years previous. Dort, 21, additionally grew to become the lone undrafted free agent to achieve the 30-point plateau in a Recreation 7.
It was, in a phrase, beautiful. Dort did not play his first recreation for the Thunder till December after beginning his season within the G League. It took him 12 profession video games to achieve double-digit factors. He wasn’t even dressed for Recreation 1, but by Recreation 7 he was central to the sequence plot.
Dort shot below 30 per cent from deep through the common season and earned his minutes as a defensive pressure. When Oklahoma Metropolis realized Dort was its finest shot at slowing down Rockets super-scorer James Harden, he was pressured into large minutes — however his offensive shortcomings meant the Rockets typically ignored him to offer assist defending Chris Paul and fellow Canadian Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
The technique opened the door for Dort — and he bolted by means of in Recreation 7.
WATCH | Dort scores 30 in Recreation 7 in opposition to Rockets:
The next morning, Canadian basketball minds have been captured by one thing each previous and startlingly new: Corridor of Famer Steve Nash was employed as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.
The transfer got here out of nowhere. Raptors head coach Nick Nurse mentioned he is spoken to Nash continuously and obtained no trace of the information. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr — for whom Nash was working as a participant improvement advisor — mentioned he did not discover out till Wednesday evening.
Nash had beforehand been Crew Canada GM, although he not too long ago withdrew right into a consulting function. He’ll now turn out to be the second Canadian head coach in NBA historical past, becoming a member of Jay Triano who began with the 2008 Raptors.
The 46-year-old and two-time NBA MVP established a relationship with Kevin Durant whereas the 2 have been with Golden State, and so they’ll make their Nets debuts collectively subsequent season alongside Kyrie Irving and armed with championship aspirations.
WATCH | Breaking down Nets’ selection to rent Nash:
Fast Raptors interjection: the week wasn’t going as properly for the defending champions, down 2-Zero of their second-round sequence to the Boston Celtics.
The Raptors’ success does not straight attribute to Canada Basketball success; not directly, although, many, together with NBA Canada managing director Leah MacNab, level to the Vince Carter (or Steve Nash) impact for getting Canadians hooked on the game. With out these two stars, there might by no means be a Jamal Murray or Lu Dort.
Extra clearly: most Canadian basketball followers are Raptors followers too.
And so the whirlwind week continued when Raptors ahead OG Anunoby hit a steely buzzer-beating three-pointer to save lots of Recreation 3 — and mainly the sequence — for Toronto.
“I do not shoot making an attempt to overlook,” Anunoby mentioned.
WATCH | Anunoby’s Recreation Three buzzer-beater offers Raptors much-needed win:
Earlier than Anunoby’s shot and Nash’s rent and Dort’s breakout there was Murray’s magic.
The Nuggets guard and Kitchener, Ont., native grew to become the story of the NBA playoffs in his first-round sequence in opposition to the Utah Jazz when he produced 50, 42 and 50 factors in Video games four by means of 6.
The feat made Murray the primary participant since Michael Jordan in 1993 to comply with a 50-piece with 40 or extra and the first-ever to have consecutive 40-point, zero-turnover playoff outings.
The 23-year-old can be the primary participant since Allen Iverson in 2001 to have three straight 40-point playoff video games. Iverson’s run got here in opposition to Carter and the Raptors, and in Recreation Three these superstars famously posted duelling 50-point performances.
Murray, naturally, discovered his personal combatant in Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, as the 2 mixed for a document 475 factors of their seven-game sequence, received barely by the Nuggets.
WATCH | Murray soars to 50 in Recreation 6 in opposition to Jazz:
Quickly sufficient, if Canadian basketball participation on the grassroots stage continues its document tempo, we may very well be speaking concerning the Jamal Murray impact.
“When you have a look at Jamal Murray one yr in the past and Jamal Murray of at the moment — wow. What an unbelievable enchancment and the way thrilling. I believe he’s a bona fide star now. And I believe we’ve the potential to see extra of these Canadian gamers do this as properly,” MacNab mentioned.
Within the WNBA, Canada boasts extra gamers than any nation exterior of the U.S. with 4.
Kia Nurse, from Hamilton, is the family identify — the 24-year-old broke out alongside Murray on the 2015 Pan Am Video games, main Canada to gold.
Nurse was alleged to spend this season alongside prime decide Sabrina Ionescu on the New York Liberty, however Ionescu’s damage robbed them of the time collectively. As a substitute, Nurse has been thrust right into a lead scorer function she does not appear fairly able to deal with, because the Liberty sit 2-15.
Toronto’s Natalie Achonwa is the heady veteran who does a bit of of all the pieces for the Indiana Fever. The playoff-bound Minnesota Lynx sport two Canadians going in several instructions: Bridget Carleton, the 23-year-old wing, is getting her first actual alternative and taking advantage of it. Kayla Alexander, the 30-year-old veteran, has been out and in of the lineup.
WATCH | Carleton turning into key participant for Lynx:
“I believe greater than something, it is that younger, proficient basketball gamers now can see a path to each the NBA and WNBA from Canada,” MacNab mentioned.
The basketball panorama is now affected by Canadian stars, from Nash to Dort to Murray to Nurse.
As soon as upon a time in 1996, Nash was the very best drafted Canadian ever at 15th total. The nation’s expertise has solely multiplied since then.
“I’ve little doubt that the expertise on the courtroom will propel the conversations amongst our followers,” MacNab mentioned.
A tantalizing week in Canadian basketball might sign a brand new daybreak.