2014 NBA schedule: Grizzlies-Warriors, Pacers-Wizards offer up quality conference matchups

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Six playoff teams struggling for playoff position duke it out on Friday night.

Friday night's slate of games has playoff teams aplenty, heaping over all buttery and warm as the NBA season draws to a close. It's the weekend, and you should be able to set down with a succulent morsel to start your night off right. Let's find out which games are hot and ready for the taking.

Appetizer: Indiana Pacers vs. Washington Wizards

7 p.m. ET (League Pass)

Indiana is coming off of a huge 84-83 win against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, and is looking to steady its footing entering the Eastern Conference playoffs. Roy Hibbert has been knocked around, and Paul George's field goal percentage has dipped in each consecutive month this season. Despite their win against the Heat, the Pacers have looked shaky in the month of March and need to get some confidence back.

For the Wizards, Friday night will be a chance to keep their heads above .500 as they try to stay afloat in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Washington has fumbled its way through the last two weeks, with John Wall putting up big numbers on offense without much to show for it. Randy Wittman's team has to staple together some kind of defense as the reinvigorated Pacers look to use their win against Miami to catapult them into the postseason.

Main Course: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Golden State Warriors

10:30 p.m. ET (League Pass)

Memphis has slowly crept its way up the Western Conference standings and is now sitting at 43-28 on the season, good for seventh place. They are dominating the month of March, nabbing a record of 11-3 and giving the Suns, Warriors, Blazers and Mavericks cause for panic as the game of musical chairs out West looks to be coming to a delightful end.

Golden State is on a similar hot streak lately, going 8-4 in its last 12 games, grabbing crucial conference wins against Dallas, Portland and Phoenix in the process. Despite their offensive prowess, the Warriors are one of the better defensive teams in the NBA, so this game should come down to matchups on the glass and who can defend the pick-and-roll better between Stephen Curry and Mike Conley.

Dessert: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Chicago Bulls

8 p.m. ET (League Pass)

Portland finally got LaMarcus Aldridge back from injury against the Hawks on Thursday night, getting a much-needed win in Atlanta to slow its backslide in the Western Conference playoff standings. The Blazers have looked out of sorts without their stalwart in the post, their shot selection suffering without balance in their high-powered offense. Still, Aldridge remains sore and it's unclear if he will actually see time against Chicago.

That could be a real issue against the Bulls, who have been stellar as they've climbed the Eastern Conference rankings since the start of the year. If Portland doesn't have Aldridge at its disposal, the team will need to find a way to gameplan against Joakim Noah orchestrating the Chicago offense from the high post. Robin Lopez, Dorell Wright and Thomas Robinson will be hard-pressed to stop the two-time NBA All-Star as the Bulls look to improve on their 40-31 record.

Other games

All times Eastern

Bobcats vs. Magic, 7 p.m.

Celtics vs. Raptors, 7 p.m.

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

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

Lakers vs. Timberwolves, 8 p.m.

Jazz vs. Pelicans, 8 p.m.

Kings vs. Thunder, 8 p.m.

Spurs vs. Nuggets, 9 p.m.

Knicks vs. Suns, 10 p.m.

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