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5 NBA things to know for Nov. 8

Get up to speed on the latest NBA news, plus a quick look at stories we’ll be following closely today:

1. Heat-Lakers? Count us in!: It’s been a minute — maybe LeBron-era Heat vs. Kobe-era Lakers? — since this matchup had must-watch written all over it. But that’s where we are with the last game of Friday’s slate (10:30 ET, NBA TV). Why should you catch this one? Hmm … well, LeBron could tie a triple-double record Magic Johnson set 32 years ago, Jimmy Butler went nuclear on the Suns last night and both teams are really good (Top 5 in Offensive, Defensive and Net Rating).

2. Big man battle in Denver: One superstar (Ben Simmons) won’t be suiting up for this showdown. But we’ve still got a matchup of two of the NBA’s best centers — Denver’s Nikola Jokic vs. Philly’s Joel Embiid — to keep this one interesting (9 ET, League Pass). Although the Sixers will be without their star point guard, the Nuggets are expected to have Gary Harris and Paul Millsap back in the mix.

3. Porzingis vs. the Knicks: No, this one isn’t at MSG (you’ll have to wait until Nov. 14 for that), but it is New York’s first opportunity to see its former All-Star big man (8:30 ET, League Pass). This might be the kind of scenario Porzingis needs to get his game on track a bit, too. After going for at least 23 points in the Mavs’ first three games, he’s been held under 20 points in the last four.

4. It’s offense vs. defense in Salt Lake: The Jazz have the No. 2-ranked defense this season, but it’s taken a bit of a mini-slide since November began. It won’t get any easier as Giannis Antetokounmpo — who leads the debut edition of the 2019-20 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder — comes to town. He just missed a triple-double in the Bucks’ last game and has been close to getting one in two of Milwaukee’s last three games.

5. The Kia MVP chase? It’s officially on …: We take great pride around these parts in keeping up with the NBA MVP chase like the rest of the hoops-loving world. And if you somehow missed it, our Sekou Smith debuted his weekly column today with a familiar face at No. 1. Don’t like what he’s got to say? He’s open to your e-mails and your tweets, so hit him up!