2014 NBA schedule: Trail Blazers battle Pacers in Indianapolis

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Two of the league's best teams square off in Friday night action.

There are some hearty, home-cooked games on Friday night and we've taken the time to pick out the best of them for your wintry NBA plate.

Appetizer: Denver Nuggets vs. New York Knicks

7:30 p.m. ET (League Pass)

Denver has a tendency to play up to big games or completely fall flat. In the month of January, they took away big wins against the Clippers, Warriors, Thunder and Pacers but dropped games to the Cavaliers, Jazz and Sixers. You're not sure what you're going to get with the Nuggets, which makes them exciting in a Gladiator sort of way.

That's good news for the Knicks, whose stagnant offense has been a sticking point this season. Denver hardly plays any defense, especially on rotations with Kenneth Faried and J.J. Hickson getting the bulk of their frontline minutes. That should bode well for New York, which has lost three straight games. They need to reclaim their home court in order to make a push for the Eastern Conference playoffs and, perhaps, save coach Mike Woodson's job.

Main Course: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Indiana Pacers

7 p.m. ET (ESPN)

The Trail Blazers are fresh off an ugly win against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden and are looking to settle themselves against the Pacers. Teams have really scouted the Trail Blazers after their hot start and have started to force coach Terry Stotts to think up new ways to open up his shooters around the arc.

Indiana keeps on chugging along and is sitting at 38-10 on the season, good for the best record in the NBA. The Pacers' defense continues to be spectacular and they will be looking to avenge their Dec. 2 loss to the Blazers. A key matchup will be how David West defends LaMarcus Aldridge, who is having a career year in Portland and is one of the toughest marks in the game.

Dessert: Toronto Raptors vs. Los Angeles Clippers

10:30 p.m. (League Pass)

Toronto has been surprisingly fun to watch this season, especially considering the team made moves that many expected to push them toward the bottom of the Eastern Conference and into the draft lottery. That has hardly been the case this season and they currently sit third in the East.

Los Angeles will have to scheme defensively for Terrence Ross and DeMar DeRozan, who have both had career-high scoring games in the month of January. For the Clippers, Blake Griffin continues to prove that he's so much more than his high-flying persona, a complete player who can defend, shoot, pass, dribble and score. With Ross, DeRozan and Blake in the game, we're sure to see some dunks as well.

Other Games (all times ET)

Thunder vs. Magic, 7 p.m.

Lakers vs. Sixers, 7 p.m.

Cavaliers vs. Wizards, 7 p.m.

Kings vs. Celtics, 7:30 p.m.

Nets vs. Pistons, 7:30 p.m.

Jazz vs. Mavericks, 8:30 p.m.

Timberwolves vs. Pelicans, 9:30 p.m.

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