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5 NBA things to know for Feb. 24

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

Jeff Case, NBA.com

1. Celebration of life for Kobe, Gianna

The Lakers are rolling on the court, having won their fifth straight game on Sunday vs. the rival Celtics. However, today in L.A. everyone will be talking about Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna as the Lakers host a celebration of life for them at 10 a.m. local time (1:30 p.m. ET). Some of the Celtics are expected to stick around today for the celebration in what is sure to be a memorable moment for all involved.

2. Sixers get chance to bounce back

Saturday’s nationally televised showdown with the Bucks couldn’t have gone worse for the Sixers, who lost at home by 21 points and saw Giannis Antetokounmpo dominate Joel Embiid and Co. After failing against the East’s best team, Philadelphia can try its luck against the East’s worst as Atlanta pays a visit (7 ET, NBA TV). It won’t be easy, though, especially since the Hawks’ Trae Young and John Collins have been hot since the All-Star break, ranking as the second-best scoring two-man lineup since then.

3. Bucks make history despite not playing

Milwaukee’s standout season continues to be a success — even when it takes the day off. The Wizards’ loss to the Bulls on Sunday assured the Bucks of a playoff spot, making Milwaukee the fastest team to clinch a postseason berth in NBA history. The Wizards will get an up-close look at why Milwaukee is so good as they host them next (7 ET, League Pass). The chase for 70 wins remains a realistic talking point for Milwaukee as it balances regular season history versus a potentially long playoff run.

4. Key showdown for Magic, Nets

Over the next month, Brooklyn and Orlando will play three times, including tonight’s matchup in New York (7:30 ET, League Pass). The Magic trail the Nets by 2 1/2 games for No. 7 in the East and games like tonight’s can shape who wins the season series and its tiebreakers. The schedule ahead seems to favor Orlando, which plays 15 of its next 19 games against teams with losing records. The Magic are 19-7 when facing sub-.500 teams this season and won the first matchup in this series back on Jan. 6.

5. Slumping squads meet in L.A.

As the season wound toward the All-Star break, both the Grizzlies and Clippers were looking sharp. Memphis had won four of five games, while LA had won four of seven. Things have not been the same for either squad since: the Clippers have lost three straight, while the Grizzlies are riding a two-game skid. The teams meet tonight (10:30 ET, NBA TV) and the Grizzlies may be in decidedly worse shape as big man Jaren Jackson Jr. will miss two weeks with a knee injury.

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