NBA standings 2014: Pacers, Spurs streaking atop respective conferences

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Pacers and Spurs are riding winning streaks, while the playoff races are heating up in each conference.

With the Miami Heat in a lull, the Indiana Pacers have taken full advantage, opening up a four-game lead atop the Eastern Conference. The Pacers have won three games in a row, including a dynamite TNT performance against the New York Knicks on Thursday night.

The way the Pacers are playing, it'll be tough for the Heat to catch up and earn the homecourt advantage that was so helpful during the 2013 postseason. However, Miami has no worries about dropping lower than the No. 2 spot, because the Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks are 7½ games back.

While the East is a two-horse derby, the race to see who fills out the remaining six slots in the playoffs could still be somewhat interesting. The Raptors certainly appear to be the third-best team in the conference, especially with Al Horford out for the season, but the Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls both sit just a game behind Toronto and Atlanta.

The Detroit Pistons have been struggling, but they do have the talent to potentially make a run up the standings. There's also the two New York teams of course, and the Brooklyn Nets currently hold the No. 8 spot, although they're tied with the No. 7 Pistons. The Knicks have lost two in a row and sit 1½ games out of the playoffs.

The Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics also can't be counted out. The Bobcats just got Michael Kidd-Gilchrist back from an injury, the Cavs should improve with Luol Deng and the Celtics welcome back Rajon Rondo on Friday.

Here are the full East standings:

Eastern Standings

Indiana Pacers 38 31-7 .816
Miami Heat 38 27-11 .711
Toronto Raptors 37 19-18 .514
Atlanta Hawks 39 20-19 .513
Washington Wizards 37 18-19 .486
Chicago Bulls 37 18-19 .486
Detroit Pistons 38 16-22 .421
Brooklyn Nets 38 16-22 .421
Charlotte Bobcats 40 16-24 .400
New York Knicks 39 15-24 .385
Cleveland Cavaliers 39 14-25 .359
Boston Celtics 40 14-26 .350
Philadelphia 76ers 38 13-25 .342
Orlando Magic 39 10-29 .256
Milwaukee Bucks 38 7-31 .184

Over in the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs have opened up a 1½-game lead over the Portland Trail Blazers thanks to a six-game winning streak. The Oklahoma City Thunder are not far off, sitting two games behind the Spurs after a comeback win over the Houston Rockets on Thursday night.

There's a 2½-game gap after the Thunder, but the fourth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers have won four straight games without Chris Paul. The Rockets hold the No. 5 seed behind the Clippers, however, the Golden State Warriors sit just a half game behind Houston. The Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks round out the current playoff field, with the Suns percentage points ahead in seventh place.

Outside the playoff picture, there are three teams in position to make some noise. The inconsistent Denver Nuggets are in ninth place, two games out. The Memphis Grizzlies, with Marc Gasol now back in the lineup, have won four games in a row and sit one game behind Denver. Finally, there's the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team who should be much better than their record indicates. The Wolves are 18-20 and still haven't won a game decided by four points or less.

Here are the full West standings:

Western Standings

San Antonio Spurs 39 31-8 .795
Portland Trail Blazers 38 29-9 .763
Oklahoma City Thunder 39 29-10 .744
Los Angeles Clippers 40 27-13 .675
Houston Rockets 41 26-15 .634
Golden State Warriors 40 25-15 .625
Phoenix Suns 38 22-16 .579
Dallas Mavericks 40 23-17 .575
Denver Nuggets 38 20-18 .526
Memphis Grizzlies 38 19-19 .500
Minnesota Timberwolves 38 18-20 .474
New Orleans Pelicans 38 15-23 .395
Sacramento Kings 37 14-23 .378
Los Angeles Lakers 39 14-25 .359
Utah Jazz 40 13-27 .325

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