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Three things to Know: 76ers comeback to beat Grizzlies showed playoff resilience

Kurt Helin joins Michael Smith and Natalie to review the top five NBA storylines to watch down the stretch of the regular season, involving both the playoff and MVP races, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and more.

Three Things To Know is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumors, drama, and dunks that make the NBA must-watch.

1) 76ers’ comeback to beat Grizzlies showed playoff resilience

Defense. Resilience.

If the 76ers are going to threaten the Celtics and Bucks in May, they will need a lot of the two things they showed Thursday night in the first game back from the All-Star break.

Their offense couldn’t buy a bucket for much of the game — Joel Embiid finished 7-of-25 shooting, Tyrese Maxey 6-of-18 — but they played strong enough defense to hang around within striking distance. De’Anthony Melton led a defense that held All-Star Ja Morant to 3-of-16 shooting on the night, and Embiid had 17 defensive rebounds and six blocks — none bigger than this one late.

“I always think two-way is better than one-way,” Embiid said postgame, via the Associated Press. “In those type of nights, to be able to have an impact when you don’t have anything going on offensively, I think is nice.”

The Grizzlies led basically all game, seeming to have an answer for any Sixers mini-run, and that lead was at a dozen in the fourth. But in the fourth, James Harden started to take over — he finished the night with 31 points — and Tobias Harris hit a couple of big 3-pointers. In front of a raucous crowd the 76ers played one of their best quarters of the season against a quality opponent, went on a 22-8 run, closing the game on a 10-1 run to pick up the win.

Two things concern me with the Grizzlies going into the playoffs. First is their halfcourt offense, which can get bogged down and did in the fourth in this game (also the Grizzlies were 1-of-8 on 3-pointers in the fourth). Late-game offensive struggles are not new to this team and it’s something that could send them home early in the playoffs if not fixed.

The other concern is their road record — they have lost eight straight away from the FedEx Forum and fell to 11-18 on the road. Winning a series in the postseason means willing games on the road.

Memphis is a team on the cusp, but they need to clean up these areas. Especially heading into a West playoffs where there will be no easy rounds when you look at the teams that could be coming out of the play-in.

2) Celtics pick up OT win over Pacers

For just the second time this season, the Celtics rolled out the starting five they hope to use in the playoffs: Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and Robert Williams. That didn’t mean rolling to an easy win.

Boston did lead by as many as 16 in the second quarter but hot shooting from All-Star Tyrese Haliburton and a blistering night from Myles Turner — he finished with 40 — brought the Pacers back and kept it close in the second half.

Boston got strong nights from their stars — Jayson Tatum dropped 31 points along with 12 rebounds and seven assists, while a masked Jaylen Brown added 30 points and 11 boards — but it was Malcolm Brogdon, returning to Indianapolis, who seemed to step up whenever the Celtics needed a big bucket.

It took overtime, but Boston added to their win total 142-138 in overtime.

3) Walker Kessler forces OT, where Jazz pick up win

Walker Kessler will not win Rookie of the Year — Paolo Banchero is running away with that award — but he will get a lot of top-three votes. And Kessler is a lock for First Team All-Rookie.

If you want evidence of the rookie’s impact, watch Kessler work inside to tie the game against the Thunder Wednesday with :04 left on the clock.

Then, when it looked like Isaiah Joe would win it for OKC, Kessler was there with the block.

Utah went on to get the win behind 43 from Lauri Markkanen. Jazz management may be dreaming of tanking for Victor Wembanyama, but this roster has enough talent to win some games down the stretch and mess with those odds a little.

Bonus Thing to Know: Watch Spurs rookie Blake Wesley inbound the ball off Luka Dončić and get a bucket.

The Mavs won comfortably, the first win for the Doncic/Kyrie Irving era, but this play was too good not to include in this roundup of the night.