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4 NBA things to know for March 11

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

1. Potential playoff preview in Dallas

Luka Doncic and Co. seem set for a playoff spot and as it stands now, the No. 7-seeded Dallas Mavericks would face the No. 2-seeded Denver Nuggets in the first round. Conveniently enough, those teams meet tonight (8 ET, ESPN) with Denver looking to ring up another recent win against a playoff-bound squad. This game could come down to the new-age big men on each squad. Denver’s Nikola Jokic has been solid since the All-Star break, but his 3-point shooting (17.6%) has not. Dallas’ Kristaps Porzingis, conversely, has been sizzling since the All-Star break (23 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 3.0 apg, 3.0 bpg) and will be looking to atone for his 10-point game vs. Denver back on Oct. 29.

2. Surging Thunder, road-tested Jazz set to meet

Only the Lakers, Pacers, Clippers and Bucks have a better win percentage since the All-Star break than the Thunder, who have gone from the No. 7 seed on Feb. 13 to the cusp of the No. 4 seed now. The Jazz have been more unpredictable this season (as we detailed Monday), but they’ve got that No. 4 seed as they visit OKC next (8 ET, League Pass). One area that Utah has been consistent in is winning on the road. At 20-13, the Jazz have the NBA’s fifth-best road record. Additionally, their lineup of Jordan Clarkson, Joe Ingles, Georges Niang, Donovan Mitchell and Tony Bradley boasts one of the NBA’s best offensive ratings on the road. With the season series tied 1-1 and one more matchup left (on April 13), tonight’s game will be huge in late-season tie-breaker scenarios.

3. Embiid returns to lineup

The Sixers are struggling lately, going 2-4 over their last six games — a stretch that has coincided with All-Star center Joel Embiid being out with a left shoulder injury. During that span, swingman Josh Richardson went out, too (back on March 1) and Philadelphia has lost some ground in the East playoff chase. Hope is on the horizon, though, as the Sixers host the Pistons next (7 ET, League Pass). Embiid and Richardson will be available to play. It’s not all good news, though, as Sixers All-Star guard Ben Simmons will be out at least another 3 weeks as he recovers from his back injury.

4. Playoff-hopeful Pelicans visit Kings

The postseason dream may be fading for New Orleans and Sacramento, but it isn’t out quite yet. Both teams are 3 1/2 games behind No. 8-seeded Memphis as they meet tonight (10:30 ET, ESPN). Keep an eye on Lonzo Ball in this one as he’s been hot over his last 15 games (13.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 7.9 apg and 43.9% shooting on 3-pointers) to keep the Pelicans in the playoff chase. Not to be outdone, the Kings’ De’Aaron Fox has picked it up since the All-Star break in just about every category (23.4 ppg, 5.8 apg, 1.2 spg) and his matchup with Ball should add intrigue to this game overall.