NBA schedule and results: Critical conference showdowns highlight Friday’s slate
Memphis hopes to break a losing streak to San Antonio, while LeBron James and the Cavaliers visit the Toronto Raptors.
The Memphis Grizzlies lost for the first time in six games on Wednesday. They couldn’t solve the Houston Rockets‘ stifling defense, and it’s on to face another of the NBA’s defensive elite two days later. Dave Joerger’s squad on Friday night hosts the San Antonio Spurs, who are coming off a loss to the Brooklyn Nets that ended an eight-game winning streak.
The overtime defeat didn’t come without a little drama. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich benched Tony Parker late in the game and afterward complained about the effort from his entire starting unit. The decision to rest Parker apparently didn’t have anything to do with a rib injury that had been bothering the point guard, who accepted his coach’s decision to play Cory Joseph instead. How that carries over into Friday will be an intriguing point of empahsis.
As for the Grizzlies, Marc Gasol told The Commercial Appeal that he’s good to go after a knee injury suffered in the second half of the loss to Houston threatened his availability. An MRI showed he only suffered a bone bruise.
Memphis will need him. It has lost eight straight games to San Antonio dating back to their playoff clash in 2013, when the Spurs swept the Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals.
Here’s how to watch that showdown along with the rest of the Friday night slate.
The main course
Spurs vs. Grizzlies, 8 p.m. ET
Neither team gets into much of a transition game, neither fouls on shots very often and both the Spurs’ and Grizzlies’ defenses play the three-point line well. There’s a good bet the final outcome could come down to points scored in the paint and the efficiency at which the teams do so.
Cleveland may have tired legs following a grind-it-out win against the New York Knicks on Thursday night. Kyrie Irving carried the Cavs with 37 points, and he’ll need LeBron James, Kevin Love and others to pick up a little bit of the slack against a Raptors team that sits atop the Eastern Conference. But how well will the Raps fare against a winning team with DeMar DeRozan out due to a tendon injury?
It’s hard not to peek at last year’s showdowns between the Suns and the Mavs. The last of those games proved pivotal in the Western Conference playoff picture, as Monta Ellis poured in 37 points in an April win for Dallas that helped it reach the postseason over the Suns. Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and their Phoenix teammates will need to play with the same intensity on defense that propelled them to a 116-99 win against the Pacers on Tuesday.
The leftovers (all times ET)
Knicks vs. Hornets, 7 p.m.
Thunder vs. Sixers, 7 p.m. (NBATV)
Nuggets vs. Wizards, 7 p.m.
Lakers vs. Celtics, 7:30 p.m.
Hawks vs. Nets, 7:30 p.m.
Rockets vs. Timberwolves, 8 p.m.
Heat vs. Bucks, 8:30 p.m.
Magic vs. Jazz, 9 p.m.
Pacers vs. Kings, 10 p.m. (NBATV)