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4 NBA things to know for Jan. 3

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

1. Sixers look for bounce-back win

Philadelphia was decidedly flat in its final game of 2019, suffering an 18-point loss to Indiana as star center Joel Embiid sat out. It won’t get too much easier for the Sixers tonight as they visit Houston (8 ET, ESPN), which has the NBA’s best Offensive Rating (116.6) since Nov. 30 and are 12-5 in that span. Additionally, Clint Capela should be ready to go tonight (he played in the win vs. Denver on New Year’s Eve), which could provide a capable stopper for Embiid (provided he suits up tonight).

2. Different flavor to this Pelicans-Lakers matchup?

Anthony Davis and the Lakers made quick work of the Pelicans in their last matchup, a Nov. 27 game that saw Davis make his return to New Orleans and light up his old team. Another showdown looms (10:30 ET, ESPN) but it would be folly to expect it to go like the last one. There’s an enticing matchup of Davis vs. Brandon Ingram and the Pelicans are nowhere near as bad as they were back in late November (when that loss was No. 3 in a skid that would reach 13 games). In fact, since that Nov. 27 game, Ingram ranks No. 8 in total points scored.

3. Young available to play tonight

Among East guards, no one has more fan votes after the first balloting returns than Trae Young. Even better for Hawks fans is that Young is available to play against the Celtics (7 ET, League Pass) after he missed Atlanta’s last two games because of a right ankle sprain. He has yet to play Boston this season, but in 2018-19, he averaged 14 points, four assists and two rebounds while shooting 38.5% against the Celtics. He could be in for a big night, though, especially since Celtics star guard Kemba Walker will miss tonight’s game because of the flu.

4. A league-wide tribute to Stern

NBA teams and players continue to express their thoughts regarding the recent passing of NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern. The NBA announced today that all players and referees will wear a commemorative black band on their uniforms for the rest of the season and playoffs. That new addition to the uniforms is expected to begin tonight as many teams will look to honor Stern’s legacy in other ways, too.