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7 NBA things to know for Feb. 12

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

1. A bevy of games before the All-Star break

It’s hard to believe, perhaps, but there are just two more days until NBA All-Star 2020 in Chicago gets rolling. Tonight’s 11-game slate has some prime matchups — which we’ll get into shortly — but consider this a notice to park it in front of the TV or your device and soak up everything there is on tonight between ESPN and NBA League Pass. Although there are still two games on tomorrow night, this is the last night of 10 or more games until Feb. 28. 


2. Raptors seek 16th straight win

If you haven’t heard, this 15-game win streak Toronto is on is not only the longest in team history, but the longest in the history of the city across any sport. At 40-14, the Raptors have reached the 40-win mark before the All-Star break for the third straight year. Tonight, they can keep all that rolling and sweep the season series with the Brooklyn Nets (7:30 ET, League Pass) to boot. Toronto has had its depth and roster versatility on display throughout this run (and, to be honest, all season long) and hasn’t had much trouble vs. Brooklyn lately either, winning 18 of the last 19 games between the teams. 

3. Bucks face struggling Pacers

By winning 14 of their last 15 games, Milwaukee has kept Toronto from gaining too much ground on it in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. In losing their last six games, the Indiana Pacers have gone from being No. 5 (with a realistic shot at the No. 3 spot) to No. 6 in the East. Closing out games has been an issue for Indiana lately and hosting Milwaukee next (7:30 ET, ESPN) would hardly seem like the cure for the Pacers’ ills. The Bucks are 11-0 against Central Division foes this season, have won nine straight games by double digits and at 46-7 are tied for the fifth-best start to a season in NBA history. 


4. Doncic ready to return

For the past seven games, the Dallas Mavericks have tried to make do without All-Star Luka Doncic in the mix as he recovers from an ankle injury. The Mavs went 3-4 during that stretch, picked up a new swingman (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) and saw Kristaps Porzingis flash his former All-Star skills at times. Barring a setback today, though, Doncic said he is expecting to suit up against the Kings (8:30 ET, League Pass). The good news is Dallas was No. 6 in the West when Doncic went down and hasn’t lost ground in that pecking order yet. 


5. West heavyweights collide in Denver

What’s the best way to end this full night of games? How about watching All-Stars from the Lakers (Anthony Davis, LeBron James) and Nuggets (Nikola Jokic) go at it in a critical game in their season series (10 ET, ESPN). Denver is looking sharp lately thanks to wins against the Jazz (twice), Bucks, Spurs and Blazers in recent weeks. The Lakers have been dominant against the West’s other playoff teams, but the Nuggets are one of four playoff-contending squads to score a win against L.A. The Nuggets’ offense is always a treat to watch, but their defense has picked it up of late: since Jan. 15, Denver’s Defensive Rating is 110.2 (9th in NBA) and has gone 8-2 in clutch games during that span as well. 


6. Heat look to cool Jazz (again)

The last time Utah played Miami, the Jazz had won five straight and six of their last seven games before falling 107-104 on Dec. 23. Once again, Utah is starting to rise up (it has won three in a row) and Miami is next on the schedule (9 ET, League Pass). The Heat could use this win as well as they are 5-7 against the West’s current playoff teams and were swept by the Clippers and Lakers this season. Don’t overlook what Jae Crowder has done since arriving in Miami: the former Jazz forward is averaging 19.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg and is on a hot shooting streak (54.5% overall, 56.3% on 3-pointers) over his last two games.


7. On this date: The 2000 Dunk Contest

Was it really 20 years ago? Yep, that’s how long its been since Vince Carter wowed the world with one of the greatest Slam Dunk Contest showings ever. Carter took center stage in the evening’s grand finale, registering three perfect scores of 50 points and distanced himself from a talented collection of high risers that included Steve Francis and Raptors teammate and cousin Tracy McGrady.