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6 NBA things to know for Dec. 13

Some key storylines and NBA tidbits to know for the day ahead

Jeff Case, NBA.com

1. Bucks take top billing (again)

If you’ve been out of the mix for the last month or so, here’s a quick catch-up: Milwaukee is really, really good this season. The Bucks are going for their 17th straight win tonight as they visit the Grizzlies (8 ET, League Pass) and, if they can do that, would be the first team since the 2017-18 Rockets to win 17 straight games. Giannis Antetokounmpo missed Milwaukee’s last game because of right quad soreness and is questionable tonight. He has a streak of nine consecutive games with 25 or more points while shooting 50% or better working right now.

2. LeBron heads back to Miami

This looming Lakers-Heat showdown (7 ET, ESPN) should be a classic. Pick a storyline and we’ve got you covered. Big win streak on the line? Yep, as the Lakers have won 12 straight on the road (and five in a row overall). Superstar showdown? Of course, with LeBron James taking on the Heat’s Jimmy Butler in a matchup of two top contenders in each conference. Other exciting names to watch? Try the Lakers’ Anthony Davis and the Heat’s rookie duo of Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro. This should be the game of the night, so don’t miss it.

3. The Harden (road) Show continues

Who says playing away from the friendly confines is tough? Certainly not Rockets star James Harden, who is fresh off a 55-point game in Cleveland and ready for tonight’s game in Orlando (7 ET, League Pass). The Kia MVP candidate is averaging 40.8 ppg on the road this season, which is a significant jump from his 36.5 ppg at home in 2019-20. Only once in his career (the 2013-14 season) has Harden ever averaged more ppg on the road than at home (and that year, the difference was hardly noticeable). Worth watching to see how he fares against a somewhat stout Magic defense tonight.

4. Embiid looking invigorated

Nothing like some real talk from a pair of Hall of Famers to snap you out of your funk. That did the trick for Sixers center Joel Embiid, who took some recent talk from Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley to heart and then took his frustrations out on the Celtics last night. Philadelphia is riding a four-game win streak as it hosts skidding New Orleans (7 ET, League Pass) and it will be worth watching to see if Embiid stays as motivated against a clearly lesser foe.

5. Wolves face critical stretch

After starting the season 4-2, Minnesota has gone 6-12 the rest of the way and has lost its last six games. A date with the Clippers (9:30 ET, ESPN) seems like a daunting challenge given LA’s top-notch defense and the Paul George-Kawhi Leonard combo. Minnesota can’t use that as an excuse, though, and a win tonight might get things rolling as five of its next six games after tonight are against fellow sub-.500 teams. But further spiraling would put the Wolves in the Blazers-Spurs-Grizzlies portion of the West that seems to be fading fast.

6. Remembering a historic scoring game

This season, 14 teams are averaging 110 ppg or more and three teams have scored 150 or more in a game at least once. Yet no one — this season or before it — has approached the offensive total the Pistons and Nuggets put up on Dec. 13, 1983. The Pistons won the historic game in triple-overtime 186-184 as Isiah Thomas led the way for Detroit with 47 points, 17 assists, five rebounds and four steals.

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