With March Madness set to begin Tuesday, hoop heads got a taste of that madness earlier than expected. Especially if you're Canadian. It was a wild week of basketball, highlighted by the Raptors, who had 5 wins in a one week span, rolling to their 8th consecutive victory after Sunday's matinee game in the mecca, New York City.
After the Raps won an OT-thriller against Detroit Pistons Wednesday night, the week really started to heat up for Canada on Friday. Rowan Barret Jr and NOT Zion Williamson received the Naismith high school basketball player of the year award. This award is given to the best high school player in the United States and RBJ is the second Canadian to ever receive this award. Following the footsteps of 2014 NBA first overall pick, Andrew Wiggins. But that was only the start.
Later that night, the Raptors took on the hottest team in the NBA, the Houston Rockets. Houston came to the Dot with a 17 game winning-streak on Drake night. With The 6ix God really earning his Global Ambassador pay check this year, you could almost hear the phrase "Houston we have a problem" echo through the ACC. Not sure how a Global Ambassador works, but after Drizzy's bold prediction in the first half of the first quarter, I think he may be due for a raise.
The Raps were only up by 9 at this point, but Drake knows - Gods Plan. The lead went from 9 to 19 real quick and Toronto doubled Houston's points by the first. Houston, by far the best first quarter team with an average margin of +4.8 had its worst first-quarter scoring output (16 points) and field goal percentage (28.6 on 6-of-21 shooting). The Rockets didn't make any 3-pointers in the first quarter, attempting only five shots from beyond the arc. Houston cleaned it up the second half, but still wasn't able to get a lead once throughout the entire game. Primarily due to Toronto's outstanding defensive performance both on and off the court.
"Hey Trev, remember in 2009 when I was signed under Lil Weezy and you were an NBA Champion? Times have sure changed eh?"
Houston has 14 losses this year, 2 against the Raptors. Toronto swept the season series with the Rockets Friday and walked the New York Knicks right off the court Sunday night in The Big Apple.
Sure, Drake was a factor on Friday night and deserves to be on the NBA All-Defensive team after those final seconds. But it seems like basketball fans and figures outside of Canada are now woke to the rising Raps. On Thursday, it was long-time advocate of Toronto, Charles Barkley, who made a daring prediction before Drizzy called the game.
With the good graces of Chuck and The 6ix God, plus all of Canada's support, the Raps should have no problem backing up these brash words.
Of course, this All-Canadian weekend wouldn't be complete without the notable U Sports basketball championship. For the first time in 8 years, Carleton University Men's basketball, who defeated several NCAA D1 household names this year, including Vanderbilt University and No. 9 Alabama Crimson Tide, failed to win the championship losing to Ryerson in the semi-finals. However, Rye High followed that up by losing to the University of Calgary Dinos in the championship game. This gave the Dinos their first championship in school history. As for the women, the Carleton Ravens continued this historic trend and capped off their perfect season with their first championship in school history.
But my favourite part of this weekend - Kitchener, Ontario's Jamal Murray becomes the villain of Laker Nation. What started on December 2nd, when Jamal Murray dribbled around a surrendering Lonzo Ball in the final seconds of a Laker loss.
And what continued on Friday night, after Jamal bullied the entire Lakers team with 22 points, 8 assists and 4 steals, all while taunting Laker nation. Sending Head Coach of LA Luke Walton and his players in an absolute frenzy.
The LA fan base took to twitter to express their emotions and what they are going to do next time Jamal Murray is in the City of Angels. One quick "Jamal Murray" search on twitter can show you a handful of tweets from sour Laker fans.
I guess Canada is much colder than most people thought and although Jamal Murray chalked up the behavior of the players and fans as sore losers, I think we all know deep down how the Canadian really feels.
And if not, well, he'll show them how he really feels Tuesday when he arrives at the Staples Center.