NBA schedule 2013: Hawks meet Celtics, Rockets test Warriors on Friday night

There will be 24 NBA teams in action on Friday night, but current playoff teams will only go head-to-head in three games. Two of those contests will be televised on ESPN. Here's a breakdown of schedule.

There will be 12 NBA games on Friday night, only three of those games feature head-to-head matchups between current playoff teams. Two of those premium games will be televised on ESPN as part of a Friday night doubleheader. Here is a look at the schedule for the evening.

The Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks are battling for playoff position in the Eastern Conference, and in the early game on ESPN (8 p.m. ET) Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and the Celtics will put their four-game winning streak on the line when they host Atlanta. Boston is now 13-4 since Rajon Rondo went down with a knee injury, and they sit just one game back of the No. 5-seed Hawks in the standings. Atlanta is in the thick of a stretch where they play 10 of 14 games on the road.

In the late game on ESPN, the Rockets and Warriors get together in a game Lakers fans will probably keep an eye on while L.A. plays the Raptors. Golden State is currently the No. 6 seed and Houston is No. 7 in the Western Conference bracket, and heading into tonight's action the Lakers are just two games back of the Rockets in the standings. Golden State has struggled in recent weeks with their defense, so it will be interesting to see how they handle the high-powered Rockets attack headlined by James Harden.

The only other matchup between playoff teams is yet another game Lakers fans will likely follow throughout the night. The Bulls host the Jazz, and Utah has dropped six of 10, including two heart-breaking losses this week. The Jazz are just 1.5 games up on L.A., and their playoff odds have dipped in the past week. Chicago hasn't been playing well either, so this one could get ugly as both teams are desperate for a win.

NBA Schedule for Friday, March 8, 2013

Thunder Bobcats 7 PM FOX Sports Oklahoma
Pacers Magic 7 PM FOX Sports Indiana FOX Sports Florida
Grizzlies Cavaliers 7:30 PM SportSouth-Memphis FOX Sports Ohio
Mavericks Pistons 7:30 PM FOX Sports Southwest-Dallas FOX Sports Detroit
Wizards Nets 7:30 PM CSN-MidAtlantic YES Network
Jazz Bulls 8 PM Root Sports Utah CSN-Chicago
Hawks Celtics 8 PM ESPN SportSouth-Atlanta CSN-NewEngland
76ers Heat 8 PM CSN-Philadelphia Sun Sports
Blazers Spurs 8:30 PM CSN-Portland FOX Sports Southwest+
Suns Kings 10 PM FOX Sports Arizona CSN-California
Rockets Warriors 10:30 PM ESPN CSN-Houston CSN-BayArea
Raptors Lakers 10:30 PM TSN2 TWC Sportsnet

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