The disparity in depth between the Eastern and Western Conferences is clear from a simple glance at the standings.
While the Toronto Raptors are in position to win their first division title in seven years, the Memphis Grizzlies are in a tight race for one of the last postseason spots in the West despite having a better winning percentage.
Toronto looks to avoid a fifth straight home loss to Memphis as the surging clubs meet Friday night.
The Raptors (36-27) hold a three-game lead over Brooklyn in the Atlantic Division and have won 10 of 13 after a 101-87 victory over Detroit on Wednesday. DeMar DeRozan scored a game-high 25 points for Toronto, which last won a division title in 2006-07 -- the season before its most recent playoff appearance.
"It always bugged me going home early and just sitting there doing nothing," said DeRozan, who is in his fifth year and has never played in the postseason. "It used to make me so hungry just watching. I've got a lot of friends that play in the playoffs and I've always got to hear them all summer talk about their experience. It always pushed me even further."
Coach Dwane Casey admitted to being late to his postgame press conference because he was watching the final minutes of the Nets' 96-95 win over Miami. The Raptors have gone 15-4 at home since dropping eight of their first 12 at Air Canada Centre.
"It is fun, but we've got to take care of our business," Casey said. "We can watch, but if we don't take care of our business, it's not worth (anything)."
Kyle Lowry had 21 points as Toronto won 103-87 at Memphis on Nov. 13. Mike Conley scored 29 for the Grizzlies, who had taken eight of the previous nine meetings.
Conley hit a layup with 1.5 seconds remaining to give Memphis a 90-88 win over New Orleans on Wednesday.
The Grizzlies (38-26) have won four straight and would hold one of the higher playoff seeds in the top-heavy East, but they are tied with Dallas for seventh in the West with ninth-place Phoenix two games behind.
Memphis is seeking its fourth straight postseason appearance.
"It was very sweet," Conley said of Wednesday's victory. "These are games that you don't want to look back and say, 'Well, what if we did this or did that?' It's a very good win."
Memphis has won 11 of 14, with all of its losses in that stretch coming on the road. It has won two straight away from home, though, beating the Pelicans despite a 19-for-49 (38.8 percent) shooting performance from the starters.
"It was an effort thing," first-year coach David Joerger said. "We didn't play hard enough or with enough energy in the first half. Then, in the second half, we picked up more energy. We went small a little bit just to kind of junk up the game."
The Grizzlies' last three victories in Toronto have been decided by a total of 10 points, with the other going into overtime.