Despite a few games reminiscent of steamed Brussels sprouts, Friday night's NBA schedule has some delectable matchups that could be eventual playoff series out West. Couple that with an intriguing storyline for Charlotte, and there's a hearty meal everyone can enjoy from the amuse-bouche to the after-dinner coffee.
7 p.m. ET (League Pass)
Both these teams are struggling to break .500 but stand in very different positions in their respective conferences. In the West, the Pelicans are four spots out of the playoff picture and more than eight games behind Dallas, who would take the last playoff spot.
Meanwhile, the Bobcats are fighting to stay atop the Detroit Pistons for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race, and are within four games of fourth place. While there's not much hope for the Pelicans' season, seeing how Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal adjust to their new surroundings in Charlotte should be fun to watch as they try to cut it in the East.
Main Course: Clippers vs. Grizzlies
8 p.m. ET (League Pass)
Friday night's Western Conference showcase starts with the game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies. Los Angeles currently sits at fourth in the West while the Grizzlies are struggling to break into the playoff picture, a game out of eighth place.
The Clippers starters are finally back at full strength with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan all healthy. However, they have lost J.J. Redick indefinitely with a bulging disc in his back, putting the onus on Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford to carry the load on the wing.
Memphis will try to use its stifling defense to lock down the high-powered Clippers offense. The Grizzlies have allowed opponents no more than 96 points in a game during the month of February while Los Angeles is the second-highest scoring team in the league at 106.9 points per game.
9 p.m. ET (League Pass)
Continuing what will be an exciting night in the West, the Suns and Spurs are slated for what could be a first round preview. San Antonio rested many of its starters in a 119-101 win against the Trail Blazers on Wednesday. That bodes well for their defense as they take on one of the most disciplined teams in the NBA in the Suns.
Despite some ups and downs throughout the season, Phoenix has myriad weapons with which to attack the Spurs, including the fastbreak, penetration from Goran Dragic and Channing Frye's aptitude from beyond the arc. Friday night's game could turn into a shootout or an all-out defensive war. That's the fun part.
All times ET
Hawks vs. Pistons, 7:30 p.m.
Jazz vs. Blazers, 10 p.m.