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3 NBA things to know for Jan. 1

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

1. Anthony’s return to MSG

Two months ago at this time, it looked like Carmelo Anthony would never play again at the building he once called home: Madison Square Garden. But the former Knicks star will get his chance to do so tonight (7:30 ET, NBA TV) as his Blazers ready for a trying January. How difficult could this month be? Well, Portland has a league-high 10 January games against teams that enter the month with a winning record — a make-or-break stretch for their playoff hopes. As for Anthony, this will be his first game at Madison Square Garden since playing there on Dec. 16, 2017 with the Thunder.

2. Big test awaits Wolves

Few players embody the future of the NBA game like Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo do. Sadly, likely won’t be treated to that matchup (8 ET, League Pass) as Towns has missed the last seven games with a knee sprain. Gorgui Dieng has filled in well in Towns’ absence and getting a win tonight could spark a turnaround for Minnesota — their next five games are against (fellow) teams that are under .500.

3. Lakers try to keep mojo rolling

A four-game skid that ran from Dec. 17-25 seems so long ago for Los Angeles these days. After back-to-back wins (against the Blazers and Mavs), Los Angeles starts a four-game run against sub-.500 teams tonight beginning with a home date against Phoenix (10:30 ET, League Pass). The Lakers have the NBA’s second-best record (trailing only the 30-5 Bucks) and are looking like a legit threat to emerge in the West as 2020 gets rolling.