NBA schedule 2013: Grizzlies-Heat and Thunder-Nuggets highlight a loaded slate on Friday

Grant Halverson

The national showcase games on Friday night should be great, as the Memphis Grizzlies take on the Miami Heat in the early game and the Oklahoma City Thunder match up against the Denver Nuggets later in the evening on ESPN.

Thursday was a so-so night in the NBA, salvaged by a triple-double from Joakim Noah and a 33-point outburst from Kobe Bryant, but Friday night in the NBA has the potential to be an excellent night of basketball. Twenty-four teams will be in action, and the Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets are the squads that will take center stage in the ESPN showcase games.

The Grizzlies (eight-game streak) and Heat (12-game) have strung together the two longest active winning streaks in the association, and one of those runs must come to an end when they meet up at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. LeBron James just wrapped up one of the best months of basketball the NBA has ever seen, while the Grizzlies have built up the No. 2 defensive efficiency rating in the league. Something will have to give on Friday night.

LeBron posted 29.7 points on 64.1 percent shooting and 72.7 percent true shooting(!), 7.8 assists and 7.5 rebounds per game over 13 games in February and all but locked up the MVP award for this season. Memphis will likely try to slow him down using Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince. Those matchups alone should make for very compelling TV.

In the late game on ESPN (10:30 p.m. ET), Kevin Durant and the Thunder will travel to the mile high city to take on Ty Lawson and the Nuggets. OKC is coming off a pair of 30-point wins. Denver has pulled out wins against the Lakers and Trail Blazers. The teams have split their season series to date, with the Thunder winning at home 117-97 and the the Nuggets responding with a 121-118 overtime win at the Pepsi Center on Jan. 20.

In other action around the NBA, the Indiana Pacers get Roy Hibbert back after a one-game suspension for their game against the desperate Toronto Raptors, Stephen Curry will look to follow up his spectacular 54-point performance at MSG with a strong outing against the Celtics, and the Dallas Mavericks will try to claw their way back into the playoff race when they take on the Brooklyn Nets.

Fire up your NBA league pass and set your TV to ESPN. It could be one of those nights.

New York Washington 7:00 PM MSG CSN-WashingtonDC
Indiana Toronto 7:00 PM FOX Sports Indiana TSN
Houston Orlando 7:00 PM CSN-Houston FOX Sports Florida
Golden St. Boston 7:30 PM CSN-BayArea CSN-NewEngland
L.A. Clippers Cleveland 7:30 PM FOX Sports Prime Ticket FOX Sports Ohio
Dallas Brooklyn 8:00 PM FOX Sports Southwest-Dallas YES Network
Memphis Miami 8:00 PM ESPN SportSouth-Memphis Sun Sports
Detroit New Orleans 8:00 PM FOX Sports Detroit FOX Sports New Orleans
Sacramento San Antonio 8:30 PM News 10 FOX Sports Southwest+
Charlotte Utah 9:00 PM SportsSouth-Charlotte Root Sports Utah
Atlanta Phoenix 9:00 PM SportSouth-Atlanta
Oklahoma City Denver 10:30 PM ESPN FOX Sports Oklahoma Altitude

More in the NBA:

The sad song of Steph Curry regret

How hard were Stephen Curry's shots?

How Bradley Beal broke out

Basketball jerseys with sleeves? Adidas must be stopped

NBA Power Rankings: Can Heat overtake Spurs?

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