The Memphis Grizzlies have eight seeding games to play as they try to hold on to the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. And their first is one of six games scheduled to take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex Friday.
After the 2019-20 NBA season resumed with two games Thursday night, 12 more teams will play their first seeding games in the Orlando bubble Friday. That includes the Grizzlies, who will face the Portland Trail Blazers, another team battling for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.
Memphis has a 3.5-game lead over the Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings and a four-game advantage over the San Antonio Spurs and the New Orleans Pelicans, who lost their first seeding game to the Utah Jazz on Thursday. The Phoenix Suns are also still mathematically alive, although they trail the Grizzlies by six games.
Another exciting Friday contest features the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics facing off in a battle of two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks have a 6.5-game lead over the Toronto Raptors for the No. 1 seed, and they will be looking to hold on to that spot during their seeding games.
Here's everything else you need to know about Friday's NBA action.
July 31 Schedule
Orlando Magic (-7) at Brooklyn Nets, 2:30 p.m. ET
Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trail Blazers (-2), 4 p.m. ET, NBATV
Phoenix Suns (-7) at Washington Wizards, 4 p.m. ET
Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks (-4.5), 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN and ESPN.com
Sacramento Kings (-3) at San Antonio Spurs, 8 p.m. ET
Houston Rockets at Dallas Mavericks (even), 9 p.m. ET, ESPN and ESPN.com
Daily Fantasy Picks
Ja Morant, PG, Memphis Grizzlies
Ja Morant's impressive rookie campaign resumes Friday, and there's no reason to think the 20-year-old point guard won't pick up where he left off. And at a daily fantasy price lower than those of some of the top stars, he has the potential to put up big numbers against the Trail Blazers.
In five games during March, Morant averaged 16.8 points per contest on 48.4-percent shooting. That included scoring more than 20 in each of his last two games. And in his only previous matchup against Portland, Morant had 20 points, nine assists and five rebounds in a Memphis win Feb. 12.
Although the Grizzlies' exhibition against the Miami Heat on Tuesday didn't count, Morant still showed he's ready to go by tallying 22 points and 12 assists while shooting 9-for-14 from the field. And as Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal put it, "his passing was great in the Grizzlies' three scrimmages but it was better to see his scoring touch come back."
These seeding games are important for the Grizzlies as they look to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017 (and then try to win their first postseason series since 2015). Morant should be motivated to get Memphis off to a fast start, and daily fantasy players can reap the benefits by including him in their lineups.
Jarrett Allen, C, Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets' chances of making a deep playoff run took a big hit every time they lost a player for the season restart. Not only are Kevin Durant (Achilles) and Kyrie Irving (shoulder) still out injured, but they will also be without Wilson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie for the rest of the season.
With Jordan out, that gives Jarrett Allen an opportunity to rack up points and rebounds for Brooklyn. The 22-year-old center has had a solid third NBA season (10.6 points and career-high 9.5 rebounds over 64 games), but his numbers could go up even more as he carries a bigger workload for the Nets on both ends of the floor.
The Orlando Magic had a tough time stopping Allen the last time these two teams played, as he had 16 points on 8-for-8 shooting, 11 rebounds and two blocks in a Nets loss on Feb. 24. And that was a game in which Jordan played 22 minutes off the bench.
Now that Allen is going to be playing more, he will be a strong option for daily fantasy, especially against Orlando. In Brooklyn's exhibition game against the Utah Jazz on Monday, he had 19 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes.
"I loved the way he competed against [Rudy] Gobert," Nets guard Caris LeVert said, according to Greg Logan of Newsday. "Gobert's one of the top bigs, one of the top rim protectors in the league, and I think J.A.'s up there as well. I think he's going to come into his own every single game."
Khris Middleton, SG, Milwaukee Bucks
This season, Khris Middleton has already had two impressive showings against the Celtics. He had 26 points (10-for-15 shooting) and six rebounds Oct. 30, then had 23 points (8-for-13 shooting) and six rebounds on Jan. 16.
It's not just this season that Middleton has played well against Boston, as he's averaged 14.9 points per game and shot 46.2 percent from the field in 22 career games versus the Celtics. Don't be surprised if Middleton resumes his impressive 2019-20 season with a strong showing, making him a good daily fantasy option for Friday.
In 55 games before the season was suspended, Middleton averaged 21.1 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 49.9 percent from the field, all of which were career highs. He was also named an All-Star for the second time in his career (the first time was in 2019). And he may be poised to play even better in Orlando.
"I've been super impressed with Khris," Bucks forward Kyle Korver said, according to Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I think he looks great. I haven't seen him move this explosively, change directions as well as he is right now. I think he really took advantage of his time."
As Milwaukee looks to secure the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, Middleton will quickly prove he's still going to play at an All-Star level and help the Bucks accomplish their first goal of the season restart.