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4 NBA things to know for Dec. 31

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

1. Matinee showdown in East

The Sixers and Pacers are in the upper crust of the Eastern Conference, ranking fifth and sixth, respectively. Only one game separates Indiana from Philadelphia and the last time they played (Nov. 30), it was a thrilling game won by the Sixers. Indiana gets a bit of a break today (3 ET, League Pass), though as Joel Embiid will not suit up for this game. In the last Pacers-Sixers game, Embiid had 32 points and 11 boards while going 15-for-15 from the free throw line.

2. Murray vs. Westbrook in spotlight

The Nuggets have won nine of their last 10 games and seem to be on the rise out West. The Rockets have lost two of three games, including a stunning defeat Sunday in New Orleans (albeit without Russell Westbrook and James Harden). The teams meet tonight (7 ET, NBA TV) for the first time since a Nov. 20 contest that Denver won 105-95 thanks to its aggressive defense. Westbrook and Harden should be OK to go tonight, but it will be worth watching Denver’s Michael Porter Jr., who had a stellar showing in his first career start Dec. 29.

3. Clippers’ depth takes a hit

The LA Clippers continue to stay in the thick of the West playoff chase, standing a mere 3 1/2 games behind the Lakers for the No. 1 spot. As they face the Kings this afternoon (5 ET, League Pass), they will reportedly be without guard Patrick Beverley, who will reportedly miss several games with a sprained right wrist. His absence will likely push Lou Williams into a bigger role while Kawhi Leonard and others are also capable playmakers for the Clippers.

4. Closing out an NBA decade

Hard to believe it, but at midnight ET the 2010s of the NBA will draw to a close. If you’ve missed it, we’ve had plenty of content to celebrate the decade that was from our All-Decade Team to a look back at broken records, past MVP winners, All-Star moments, playoff moments, LeBron’s run of Finals appearances, big offseason moves and so much more. Happy (early) NBA New Year and here’s hoping the 2020s are just as thrilling as the last decade was.