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5 NBA things to know for Feb. 27

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

1. Sixers await word on Embiid

The Philadelphia 76ers just can’t seem to catch a break these days. First, they lost All-Star guard Ben Simmons for about two weeks to a back injury. Then came last night in Cleveland, when All-Star center Joel Embiid played just 7 minutes before suffering a left shoulder injury. Oh, and they also lost that game, too, which made it seven straight road losses for the Sixers. Embiid is reportedly set to have an MRI today and how long he’s out could make Philadelphia’s immediate future look even more dire.

2. Blazers, Pacers ready to move on

Indiana and Portland have to be glad that February is just about over for them, especially after they struggled through the month (the Pacers are 3-7 so far; the Blazers are 4-6). They meet tonight in Indiana (8 ET, TNT) and both teams, standings-wise, can still change their fortunes in March. The Pacers are two games behind the No. 4-seeded Miami Heat, while the Blazers are 2 1/2 games behind the Grizzlies for No. 8 in the West. As the season enters its final month, the Pacers hope to figure out their depth chart after losing Jeremy Lamb for the season. As for the Blazers, a road trip through the East will prove critical to their playoff hopes.

3. Thunder keeping pressure on Rockets

Thanks to Utah’s skid and its own four-game win streak, Oklahoma City is No. 5 in the West and within striking distance of No. 4 Houston. The Thunder visit the Kings next (8 ET, League Pass) and are two games behind the Rockets in the standings entering tonight. The Thunder are 18-7 in 2020 and while All-Star Chris Paul remains solid, don’t overlook the play of Danilo Gallinari and Dennis Schroder as well. Since Jan. 1, Gallinari (20.5 ppg) and Schroder (19.9 ppg) are providing the offense, with Schroder’s scoring average ranking fourth among all reserves.

4. Caruso chipping in for Lakers

It is tempting to paint Lakers backup guard Alex Caruso as nothing more than the fan-favorite he is. But do so at your own peril as he has been one of the more efficient reserves in February. His stats this month (6.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.1 spg) are essentially on par with his season averages, but a look at his advanced stats show he’s second on the team in True Shooting and Effective Field Goal percentage. L.A. is seeking its fifth straight win as it hosts Golden State (10:30 ET, TNT) and Caruso has proven to be valuable throughout this hot streak the Lakers are on.

5. Happy Birthday, James Worthy!

The “Showtime” era for the Lakers wouldn’t have been the same without James Worthy filling the lane on fast breaks and coming up big in clutch playoff moments. The Hall of Famer and 1988 NBA Finals MVP turns 59 today and was one of the greatest winners in basketball’s history, winning an NCAA title at North Carolina and three NBA titles as an integral part of the Lakers. He was a seven-time All-Star, made two All-NBA teams and is one of the greatest Lakers of all-time.