NBA viewing guide: Heat vs. Nets headline busy Friday

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

It's a loaded Friday night, so here's a viewing guide to help wade through the 13-game schedule.

The NBA let everybody catch their breath with a two-game schedule Thursday night, but it's right back to a full buffet of games Friday. The Miami Heat head to Brooklyn to face the Nets as the main course Friday, but there are 13 games to choose from.

Here's the menu for the evening.

The Appetizers: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Orlando Magic

7 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass

The Orlando Magic have gone 0-2 to open the season but have finally reached their home opener. Teams have gone 17-2 in their home openers this year, but SB Nation's Tom Ziller thinks it's an overrated power. The Pelicans will be able to run their three-guard lineup with Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans against Orlando's smaller backcourt. Also, obligatory Anthony Davis flying Pelican goodness:

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Reading material: The Bird Writes with reactions to the first loss of the seasonThe Orlando Magic are opening their own hall of fame

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Charlotte Bobcats

7 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass

The Cavaliers may have had the most shocking opener of the week if only because of the unexpected return of Andrew Bynum. Bynum is expected to continue playing limited minutes as the Cavaliers ease him into playing after missing an entire year with the Philadelphia 76ers. Al Jefferson will be out tonight for the Bobcats, who will start Bismack Biyombo in his place:

Charlotte looks to bounce back after being outrebounded as a team by Houston's revamped frontcourt of Dwight Howard and Omer Asik. Why not catch a little Uncle Drew, Kemba Walker action before the meat of the night arrives?

Reading material: The Fear The Sword MailbagThe Bobcats vs. Cavaliers diss rap

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Washington Wizards

7 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass

Michael Carter-Williams had a brilliant professional debut and was key in the Philadelphia 76ers' victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday and now gets to lineup against John Wall and the Washington Wizards. Nene is dealing with a calf injury but is expected to play.

Reading material: Michael Levin doesn't want to hear about Andrew Bynum's magical returnThe Wizards wasted Trevor Ariza's career night

Toronto Raptors at Atlanta Hawks

7:30 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass

The Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks are the last appetizer on the menu today, serving up a plate featuring two teams with Eastern Conference playoff aspirations. The Raptors will lean on their wing players to pressure the Hawks in transition, an area Atlanta struggled with against the Dallas Mavericks in their season opening loss. Al Horford and Jonas Valanciunas could be an intriguing match-up worth taking a peek at before the second set of games fire up.

Reading material: The erratic evolution of DeMar DeRozanDefensive lapses cost Hawks season opener

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics

7:30 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass

The Celtics are a bare-bones roster, but why not check out rookie Kelly Olynyk and sophomore Jared Sullinger's season debut? Not interested? OK, fine, there's always Larry Sanders, "The Greek Freak" and O.J. Mayo to check out in Milwaukee's revamped roster.

Reading material: Which Celtic will last on the roster the longest?  The Bucks are searching for a diamond in the rough again.

The Main Courses:  Miami Heat vs. Brooklyn Nets

8 p.m. ET, ESPN

There are two main courses worth deciding between Friday night. The first is the Miami Heat visiting the Brooklyn Nets in the season opener at the Barclays Center. The Nets feature a few of LeBron James' old pals from Boston in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Deron Williams and Andrei Kirilenko will play restricted minutes.

Dwyane Wade is expected to start for Miami after sitting out Wednesday night. And a why-not to the NBA showing us LeBron James' ... interesting ... choice of pregame attire:

Can the Nets begin cracking the LeBron James code? The Nets and Heat are going to get used to each other with four regular-season meetings and expectations for deep playoff runs. Brooklyn's top priority will be finding a way to slow down James, both as a team and individually. They'll get their first crack at solving the code.

Reading materialFive questions going into Nets vs. HeatHave you seen Miami's championship rings yet?

Dallas Mavericks vs. Houston Rockets

8 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass

The Dwight Howard era began with a win in Houston, and he'll get his first taste of being a part of the Texas triangle rivalry when the Dallas Mavericks head down to Houston. Monta Ellis played like he really did have it all and could be a problem for James Harden to deal with on defense.

On the other hand, Dirk Nowitzki and Samuel Dalembert will have their arms full dealing with both Omer Asik and Howard playing together. Keep an eye on Kevin Mchale's rotations with the two big men.

Reading material: The Mavericks biggest strengths and weaknessesThe mixed bag of playing Dwight and Omer together

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

8 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass

This game could wind up being the most entertaining of the night in the battle of the Kevins. Kevin Love dropped 31 in the Timberwolves season opener and hit a overtime-forcing three-point shot to help lead his team to victory on Wednesday:


Kevin Durant put in 42 points of his own in a win over the Utah Jazz. Oh, and let's toss another Kevin in the mix with Kevin Martin. Martin scored 23 points, making all nine of his free throw attempts.

Come for the Kevins, stay for Ricky Rubio.

Reading material: Is Thabo Sefolosha ready for the big time? Notes and quotes after the Minnesota's first game.

Side Dishes: Detroit Pistons vs. Memphis Grizzlies

8 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass

The Detroit Pistons didn't reach a contract extension with big man Greg Monroe and now have a full season to figure things out how their team looks before tying up their future salary. This is a great test for their bigs, along with the versatile defender Josh Smith. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are one of the toughest frontcourts to deal with in the NBA, and containing Mike Conley means protecting the rim. This should be a game played at a grinding pace. Let's see how Smoove follows up this kind of production:

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Reading material: Greg Monroe admires Zach Randolph's gameQuicy Pondexter's extension was a great deal for Memphis

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets

9 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass

The Denver Nuggets are still in the "figuring things out" phase with new head coach Brian Shaw and a strange assortment of frontcourt players, as detailed here by Denver Stiffs' Nate Timmons. If anything, the point guard duel between Ty Lawson and reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard could be an interesting one. Or this could wind up as the J.J. Hickson "revenge against his former team" game.

Reading material: J.J. Hickson jabs Robin Lopez over reboundingBrian Shaw discusses frontcourt, McGee

Dessert: Utah Jazz vs. Phoenix Suns

10 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass

There are three late games tonight to keep the goodness of basketball rolling late into your Friday night. What, you were expecting to go out or something?

The Jazz and Suns both allowed contracts to key backcourt pieces with Gordon Hayward and Eric Bledsoe lined up to become restricted free agents this summer. Can you smell the contract year stats on the grill already?

Reading material: Reactions after Jazz and Hayward don't agree on extensionSuns-Bledsoe situation has Joe Johnson written all over it

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Sacramento Kings

10 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass

The Sacramento Kings opened up their season in true celebratory fashion. Check out their pregame ceremony video, highlighting the "Here we stayed" journey.

The Clippers are on a back-to-back after putting on one heckuva show Thursday against the Golden State Warriors. Chris Paul put in 42 points, 15 assists and six steals, outdueling Stephen Curry. Here's one of his incredible lob passes to Blake Griffin, this one leaving CP3's hands from half court and leading him directly to the rim:

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That was part of a sequence when Paul tossed three straight alley-oops to Griffin withing a 32-second span. Riquickulous.

Reading material: Five questions going into Kings-ClippersWho doesn't love Jimmer Fredette rumors?!

San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Lakers

10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

It's a good ol' Spurs vs. Lakers game, but it just isn't the same. Both Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan will miss their first meeting of the 2013-14 season. The last time this happened? 1996!

Reading material: Establishing Pau Gasol in the low-post is key for Lakers' starting fiveHow Manu got his groove back

More from SB Nation NBA:

O'Donnell: Derrick Rose brings The Roar back

The Hook: The overrated power of the NBA home opener

Longform: How the Pistons became a team apart from Detroit

James Herbert: He’s now ‘Coach Rondo’

The King's Revolution: How things changed since LeBron made The Decision

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