2014 NBA schedule: Indiana and Miami match up in a battle for first place

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

The two titans of the East have been grappling for the top spot in the Eastern Conference all season and they each have a chance to get a leg up on the other on Friday night.

It may be springtime, but it's looking a lot like Thanksgiving out East. There are 13 NBA games on the schedule for Friday night, and with all 15 teams from the Eastern Conference playing there is going to be someone missing out on the last biscuit. Miami and Indiana will try to figure out who will take their place at the head of the table as we move into the postseason.

Appetizer: Atlanta Hawks vs. Brooklyn Nets

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

Atlanta has all but locked up the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but a win against the Brooklyn Nets sure wouldn't hurt its cause on Friday. The Hawks have been striving to get a berth over the New York Knicks for the last three weeks, and they are 4-2 in their last six games. Paul Millsap has been a rebounding machine and that should be great news against the Nets, who are in the bottom third of the NBA in opponent rebounds allowed.

Brooklyn is fighting for seeding at this point, trying to fend off Charlotte from below while making a run for the No. 4 seed and grabbing home court advantage in the first round. Losing to Orlando on the road on Wednesday was a shock, but the Nets have been stellar as of late with a record of 6-2 over their last eight games. Whomever wins between Mason Plumlee and Millsap on the glass could be the determining factor in this game.

Main Course: Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat

7:30 p.m. ET (NBATV)

Indiana has been an absolute disaster down the stretch, a puzzling mixture of locker room dysfunction and offensive ineffectiveness. Putting aside the rumblings that Paul George and Roy Hibbert aren't doing the best they can to lead their team, the Pacers did play the Heat well the last time these two teams met on March 26. Indiana beat the Bucks even after resting their starters on Wednesday. If they want to get a portion of their swagger back before they enter the playoffs, they have to beat Miami on Friday.

For the Heat, they have the Pacers right where they want them. Miami will hold home court advantage throughout the playoffs in the East, save for a potential meeting with Indiana in the Conference Finals. Swapping for the first overall spot won't help them against the Wizards, Bobcats or Hawks in the first round, but watching the Pacers squirm will. The Heat aren't in danger of losing their No. 2 spot to the Raptors, but beating their conference rivals just might be the final blow they need to knock the Pacers down for good.

Dessert: Phoenix Suns vs. San Antonio Spurs

8:30 p.m. ET (League Pass)

Phoenix is driving the wagon in the West, even if it is in from the backseat. They play the Spurs, Mavericks and Grizzlies before season's end and have yet to clinch a playoff spot amid all the turmoil out West. Beating the Spurs -- who are on the second night of a back-to-back and have nothing to prove -- would give them another conference win as they try to pencil themselves into the postseason.

San Antonio doesn't look like they are going to just roll over without a fight. Even with the possibility of Tony Parker missing time and Tim Duncan's apparent knee injury suffered against the Mavericks on Thursday, they have enough firepower to upset the stomachs of fans in Phoenix. Kawhi Leonard will be the player to watch, with his main task likely to be stopping either Eric Bledsoe or Gerald Green. Patty Mills has shown he's more than competent now that he has several years experience in the Spurs' system, so the late game should prove delectable for NBA fans.

Other Games

All times Eastern

Wizards vs. Magic, 7 p.m. (League Pass)

Knicks vs. Raptors, 7 p.m. (League Pass)

Bobcats vs. Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (League Pass)

Pistons vs. Bulls, 8 p.m. (League Pass)

76ers vs. Grizzlies, 8 p.m. (League Pass)

Rockets vs. Timberwolves, 8 p.m. (League Pass)

Pelicans vs. Thunder, 8 p.m. (League Pass)

Cavaliers vs. Bucks, 8:30 p.m. (League Pass)

Blazers vs. Jazz, 9 p.m. (League Pass)

Warriors vs. Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (NBATV)

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