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LeBron James will reportedly return from a groin strain on Friday at the Spurs

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Three Things is NBC’s five-day week-long wrap-up of the night before the NBA. paying off NBCSports.com Every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumours, drama and dunks that make the NBA a must watch.

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1) In the Narrow West, will any team be involved in winning?

Talking to someone with Clippers less than 2 hours ago Kawhi LeonardBack at play, they casually said that one of the reasons they felt comfortable being patient was because no one ran off with the West.

They’re right. On Thanksgiving, nearly 20 games into the season, only three games separate the top-seeded Suns and the top-seeded Warriors out of play.

Not so in the East, where Boston and Milwaukee seem to be the two best teams, and there’s already a six-game gap between the Celtics and the 11th-ranked Bulls. Out in the East, the bar is set (and the Bucks and Celtics are still without key players due to injury).

Outside of the West, no team has ever run away with anything—five more teams in a game than the top-seeded Suns. Or, look at it this way: The Suns are two games away from falling from top seed to play. With so few games a team has played a significant role, the strength of schedule factors is even more so, and the Kings, Clippers, and Suns are among the seven easiest schedules in the league. Things will get more difficult for them.

Which leads to this question, no one asked Vincent Goodwill on me brother from another on me peacock Wednesday:

Will any team make a bold bargain and make themselves the team to beat in the West?

There are rumors of deals, but they are not necessarily conference change agents. The Jazz was rumored to have an interest in John Collins. The Their eyes are on the suns Bojan Bogdanovic in Detroit among other players (w they send it Jay Crowder In a deal at some point, I’m looking for players who can help them win now in return). Would any team move for him Miles Turner? (And would the Pacers trade him, after they got off to a better-than-expected start and Turner was an edge-protecting beast?) Will the Rockets finally trade Eric Gordon?

These all play good roles, but what about the superstars? Players who change the balance of power?

Nothing is certain on this front. Until now. Many eyes have turned to brooklyn as curls look flawed and Kevin Durant He looks depressed. Then there are the questions about which teams might look themselves in the mirror at Christmas and decide to switch towards Victor Wimpanyama and the lottery. Heat and Bulls are right with the Nets having disappointing starts, so could they become sellers? (It’s hard to imagine the Heat throwing in the towel in any season, but they can put high-rolling players on the market after that. Duncan Robinson if they want to.)

Some teams in the West will move. Maybe the Mavericks will find a candidate for Luka Doncic. Maybe it’s internal, like getting clippers Paul George And Kawhi Leonard is healthy and on the court together for a long time (They went 3-0 when Leonard came back, only to sit out Wednesday’s loss to the Warriors because of his ankle.) Perhaps Denver will clean up their last five defense. Maybe you get pelicans Zion Williamson Healthy for the long haul and looks like a team ready to make the leap.

Or it could be the Suns, but after the way they crashed out of the last playoffs, they’ll have to prove their mental toughness in May, not December.

The door is open in the west. Will any team be bold enough to go ahead with it?

2) The Bulls finally won a game in the clutch, beating the Bucks 118-103

Last season, the Bulls were one of the best clutch teams in the NBA, thanks in large part to that DeMar DeRozan Have a career year and hit big goals. This season, Wednesday’s Bulls have gone 0-7 in games that have been within five points in the final five minutes (not a perfect clutch measure, but one that has become the norm).

But Wed Kobe White Has stepped up.

The Bulls aren’t a team stacked with demanding 3-pointer shooting, but White is a guy who can get hot for them from deep down. He had two hat-tricks in the last 90 seconds that were key, as he was Alex Caruso Late charge fee Giannis Antikonmo.

DeRozan finished with 36 for the Bulls. Antitokonmo had 36 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Brook Lopez He added 20 times, but the Bucks turned the ball over 20 times and that did them.

The Bulls have now beaten the Celtics – winning nine straight games in Boston – and the Bucks in straight games. It’s a huge boost in confidence for the team that came out of the gate, so can they now maintain and build on that momentum?

3) Tra Young Puts out 36 and shorts the Kings’ winning streak by seven games

They can’t light the beam every night.

The Sacramento Kings’ seven-game winning streak ended at the hands of Trae Young, who could be a one-man offensive machine and put up 36 on the Kings in a 115-106 victory over Atlanta.

Malik is a monk Sacramento led with a season-high 27 points, but it wasn’t their night. Clint Capella He added 11 points and 14 rebounds for the Hawks.

The Kings have been a great story, the second-best offense in the NBA (using NBA.com numbers) with Daron Fox And the Domantas Sabonis He leads the way and seems to be a different guy going up each night. But they enjoyed this one, starting 10-7 against one of the softest, easiest dates of any team to date. That’s about to change with the Celtics and Suns scheduling their next two games (and a long road trip in December). Kings tests are coming.

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