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5 NBA things to know for Dec. 3

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

Jeff Case, NBA.com

1. East powers collide in Toronto: A must-see showdown in Canada looms (League Pass, 7:30 ET) as Miami and Toronto — both among the league’s top 10 in net rating, assist percentage and true shooting percentage — square off. The Heat have one of the East’s tougher December schedules and need a win tonight to prove their case as a contender. As for the Raptors, they’ve won seven straight but play five of their next six games (including this one) against teams .500 or better.

2. A West showdown in Denver: The Lakers took the NBA by storm in November, racking up 10 straight wins (against a schedule that, in retrospect, was pretty thin on contenders). The Nuggets were also hot last month, going 10-2 by logging wins against the Rockets, Sixers, Heat and Celtics during that stretch. An early-December meeting (9 ET, League Pass) should go a long way in sussing out which team could reign supreme in the West. And, of course, there’s a great big man matchup (Denver’s Nikola Jokic vs. the Lakers’ Anthony Davis) to dig into as well.

3. Luka-mania rolls along: Oh, if only Zion Williamson were healthy for this one (7:30 ET, TNT). You’ll have to settle for another run of Luka Doncic on national TV, which, of course, is nothing to discard. He’s fresh off a brilliant November, he ended the Lakers’ win streak on Sunday and is not above poking some good-natured fun at his teammates. How hot is Doncic? He’s logged 15 straight games with at 20 points, five rebounds and five assists — which is the fourth-longest such streak since the ABA-NBA merger (1976-77).

4. Tough test awaits slumping Spurs: A game in Houston vs. James Harden is hardly what San Antonio needs right now (8:30 ET, League Pass). It has lost 13 of its last 16 games, was demolished by the Pistons on Sunday night, ranks 27th in Defensive Rating (113.4) and 26th in opponent Effective Field Goal percentage (54.7%). Yet despite all that, the Spurs are also still capable of beating a good team (see Friday’s win vs. the LA Clippers). It’s clear, though, that some kind of renewed defensive effort is needed for the Spurs to change their fortunes.

5. Was it really that long ago?: Maybe it’s just us, but it seems like eons ago that Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Russell Westbrook were a feared trio in Oklahoma City. George will get his first look at the Portland-era version of Anthony (10 ET, TNT) as his Clippers host the Blazers in what could be a great night cap game. Anthony has seemingly found his stride the last few games and perhaps seeing George will light another fire in Anthony to keep Portland rolling.

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