NBA Schedule: Heat winning streak on the line, Lakers can gain more ground on Jazz

USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat will put their winning streak, now at 24 games, to the test again on Friday night. Elsewhere around the NBA, games with playoff implications will unfold.

LeBron James and the Miami Heat have stacked up 24 wins in a row and are chasing NBA history, and on Friday night they will take center stage again when they host the Detroit Pistons on NBATV at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Heat have essentially locked up the top seed in the Eastern Conference and the Pistons are out of the playoff discussion, but the game carries a historical significance that makes it deserving of the only national broadcast of the night.

Heat blog Hot Hot Hoops has more on the matchup:

It seems like ages ago, but the Heat have lost to the Pistons earlier this season. Back on December 28, the Pistons beat Miami by 10 in Detroit while Dwyane Wade served a one game suspension. The Heat got some revenge in Miami on January 25, beating them 110-88.

With 15 games left in the season and Miami a few games away from clinching the Eastern Conference, one would think this game doesn't have much meaning, but Miami is protecting a league-best home court record, league-best record and of course the winning streak.

Plenty of the other action in the association will have an effect on the playoff races, because wins and losses are magnified at this time in the season. In the East, the No. 2 seed Pacers will host the No. 8 seed Milwaukee Bucks (7 p.m. ET) while the No. 3 seed Knicks take on the Raptors. Indiana and New York are separated by just one game in the standings, while Milwaukee sits two games behind the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls. The Celtics will be in Dallas for a matchup against the Mavericks, and the Hawks will host the Blazers.

In the Western Conference, the Utah Jazz have lost seven of their last 10 games to slip out of the playoff picture, and they will need a strong performance to knock off the San Antonio Spurs (who are 29-4 at home this year). Should the Jazz falter again, the Lakers may be able to create an additional cushion for the eighth seed when they host the Wizards at 10:30 p.m. ET. The Grizzlies will take on the Hornets, while the Thunder will look to preserve their three-game lead over Memphis when they meet the Magic. Finally, the No. 7 seed Rockets will host the banged up Cavaliers.

NBA Schedule for Friday, March 22

AWAY HOME TIME (ET) NATIONAL TV AWAY TV HOME TV
Thunder Magic 7:00 PM FOX Sports Oklahoma FOX Sports Florida
Knicks Raptors 7:00 PM MSG SNET
Bucks Pacers 7:00 PM FOX Sports Wisconsin FOX Sports Midwest
Blazers Hawks 7:30 PM CSN-Portland SportSouth-Atlanta
Pistons Heat 7:30 PM NBATV FOX Sports Detroit Sun Sports
Grizzlies Hornets 8:00 PM SportSouth-Memphis FOX Sports New Orleans
Cavaliers Rockets 8:00 PM FOX Sports Ohio CSN-Houston
Jazz Spurs 8:30 PM Root Sports Utah FOX Sports Southwest+
Celtics Mavericks 8:30 PM CSN-NewEngland FOX Sports Southwest-Dallas
Timberwolves Suns 10:00 PM WFTC FOX Sports Arizona
Wizards Lakers 10:30 PM CSN-MidAtlantic TWC Sportsnet

More from SB Nation:

March Madness TV guide for Thursday and Friday

An open letter to NBA nerds at the start of March Madness

Tom Ziller: How to stay young in the NBA

Andrew Sharp: LeBron is our MJ

The best NBA draft prospects of March Madness

An oral history of Bryce Drew's epic buzzer-beater

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