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This is what that you must know proper now from the world of sports activities:
Jamal Murray did it once more
With apologies to Tristan Thompson’s high-quality work throughout Cleveland’s 2016 Finals upset of Golden State, no Canadian since Steve Nash has made this huge an affect on the NBA playoffs. Murray had one other monster efficiency final night time, scoring 40 factors in Recreation 7 to assist the Denver Nuggets shock the L.A. Clippers and advance to the Western Conference final.
The 23-year-old guard from Kitchener, Ont., had cooled off after dropping a Jordanesque 50, 42 and 50 factors in consecutive video games to steer Denver’s rally from a 3-1 collection deficit vs. Utah within the first spherical. However when the Nuggets discovered themselves in that same-sized gap vs. the closely favoured Clippers, he got here by way of with 26, 21 and 40 within the three elimination video games.
Denver is the primary workforce in NBA historical past to beat a pair of 3-1 deficits within the playoffs. And Murray’s explosion final night time made him the second-youngest participant ever to attain 40 or extra in a Recreation 7. Lebron James was 65 days youthful when he did it in 2008.
As if all that is not candy sufficient for Canadian basketball followers, final night time’s victory got here on the expense of Raptors-spurning Kawhi Leonard (not that we’re nonetheless bitter about that or something). This was imagined to be the Clippers’ yr after they poached the reigning Finals MVP and (allegedly) elite wingman Paul George final summer season. However the franchise has nonetheless by no means reached the convention finals in its checkered 49-year historical past. To place that in perspective, no different workforce within the 4 greatest North American sports activities leagues has gone greater than 30 years with out doing it. The Clips’ newest humiliation additionally ruined the all-L.A. Western ultimate that everybody anticipated — and that the NBA absolutely craved.
As an alternative, the matchup pits Murray and his equally-red-hot teammate Nikola Jokic (who had an absurd 16-point, 22-rebound, 13-assist triple-double final night time) in opposition to the Lakers’ much more dynamic duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The latter is the highest scorer nonetheless alive within the playoffs. He is averaging 27.6 factors per recreation. Murray is second at 27.1, James third at 26.6 and Jokic fifth at 25.4. The collection opens Friday night time at 9 p.m. ET.
Together with his playoff heroics, Murray is placing the ending touches on a banner yr for Canadian basketball. This is what else has stood out in 2020:
Second-year professional Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and rookie Lu Dort helped Oklahoma Metropolis turn out to be the most important shock of the NBA season. The Thunder had been anticipated to tank after buying and selling Paul George, however they completed fifth within the West as Gilgeous-Alexander led them in scoring and Dort received over followers along with his hustle and defensive tenacity. SGA wasn’t nice in OKC’s playoff loss to Houston, however Dort actually made a reputation for himself in Recreation 7. He scored a career-high 30 factors and helped restrict Houston famous person James Harden to 17.
Three different children completed off promising seasons. Second-year wing Dillon Brooks averaged 16.2 factors and helped Memphis attain a play-in recreation within the Disney bubble. His rookie teammate Brandon Clarke was voted to the NBA All-Rookie First Group (introduced in the present day) after averaging 12.1 factors and 5.9 rebounds. No. Three total draft choose RJ Barrett did not make both of the all-rookie groups after an up-and-down season, however he nonetheless managed to attain 14.Three factors per recreation for an terrible Knicks workforce.
Steve Nash was named head coach of the Brooklyn Nets. The Corridor of Fame level guard has by no means labored this job at any degree, however he is taking up an actual contender. Two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant will likely be again from his Achilles damage subsequent season, and the Nets have one other all-world scorer in Kyrie Irving.
Andrew Wiggins bought a golden (State) alternative. The much-maligned former No. 1 choose was traded from perennial loser Minnesota to Golden State in February. The injury-riddled Warriors completed final total, however Wiggins performed extra effectively in his 12-game stint with them than he has in his profession. And he is nonetheless solely 25. When Warriors stars Steph Curry and Klay Thompson return subsequent season, Wiggins will likely be in an ideal place to lastly make good on his expertise.
Kelly Olynyk could be going to the NBA Finals. The veteran huge man’s Miami Warmth took the opener of the Jap Convention ultimate vs. Boston in OT final night time. Olynyk averaged 8.2 factors within the common season and is chipping in 6.6 within the playoffs.
The ladies’s nationwide workforce is ranked a best-ever fourth on the planet after qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics in February. If the postponed Video games go forward subsequent summer season, Canada might problem for its first-ever medal. The workforce’s most distinguished participant, guard Kia Nurse, had a tricky WNBA season for an terrible New York Liberty workforce that completed final total. However two Canadians are nonetheless alive within the playoffs — Bridget Carleton and Kayla Alexander of the Minnesota Lynx. Carleton averaged a modest 6.6 factors in her second WNBA season, however she scored a career-high 25 again on Aug. 5.
Sadly, this was additionally imagined to be the yr that the Canadian males’s nationwide workforce made a run at its first Olympic look since Nash dragged them there in 2000. A number of the nation’s key NBA gamers (together with Murray) had already dedicated to taking part in in a last-chance qualifying event in Victoria, the place Canada was grouped with NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Greece workforce. Canada’s head coach, Nick Nurse, was named the NBA’s coach of the yr a number of weeks in the past.
However the pandemic nixed every part and it is unclear what’s going to occur subsequent summer season. Even when the postponed Olympics go forward as scheduled, NBA gamers may not have the ability to take part. It appears just like the 2020-21 season may not begin till Christmas on the earliest, which might push the playoffs deeper into the summer season. But when and when Canada’s finest NBA gamers can go well with up, the boys’s workforce must be higher than ever. That could be the perfect takeaway from this yr.
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