NBA standings 2014: Heat creeping up on Pacers in Eastern Conference

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

With a blowout victory over the Thunder, the Heat have moved to just a game and a half behind the Pacers for the top spot in the East.

When the Miami Heat were going through their January doldrums, it appeared the Indiana Pacers were on the fast track to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Following an impressive win over the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 20, the Pacers held a 4½-game lead in the East.

But just one month later, that lead has shrunk to just a game and a half. Miami has won four games in a row, including a 103-81 shellacking of the NBA-best Oklahoma City Thunder at Oklahoma's Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thursday. After Kevin Durant took clear control of the MVP award in January, LeBron James decided he wasn't going down without a fight, raising his game to another level in the past few games.

Meanwhile, Indiana has faltered a bit of late to go just 3-3 over their last six games. With the Pacers' stranglehold on home-court advantage in the East sliding away, the front office went out and traded for Evan Turner to upgrade their bench.

While nobody will challenge the Pacers and Heat for the top two spots in the East, the fight for the No. 3 seed has plenty of intrigue. The Toronto Raptors currently hold the third spot, but the Chicago Bulls are charging hard. The Bulls have won four games in a row and just beat the Raptors in Toronto to move a half-game back.

At the bottom of the conference, the Charlotte Bobcats have created a bit of separation from the Detroit Pistons for the final spot in the playoff picture. The Bobcats just throttled the Pistons in both games of a home-and-home to take a 2½-game lead for the No. 8 seed while also moving just a game and a half back of the No. 5 seed.

Outside of the playoff picture, the red-hot Cleveland Cavaliers are a team to keep tabs on. The Cavs have won six games in a row after firing general manager Chris Grant and sit three games behind the Bobcats for the No. 8 seed. But while Charlotte doesn't appear to be going anywhere, the Atlanta Hawks better watch out. The Hawks have lost seven in a row and could find themselves out of the playoffs if current trends continue.

Here are the full Eastern Conference standings:


Eastern Standings

GP W-L PCT
Indiana Pacers 54 41-13 .759
Miami Heat 53 39-14 .736
Toronto Raptors 54 29-25 .537
Chicago Bulls 53 28-25 .528
Washington Wizards 54 26-28 .481
Brooklyn Nets 52 25-27 .481
Atlanta Hawks 53 25-28 .472
Charlotte Bobcats 55 25-30 .455
Detroit Pistons 54 22-32 .407
Cleveland Cavaliers 55 22-33 .400
New York Knicks 54 21-33 .389
Boston Celtics 55 19-36 .345
Orlando Magic 56 16-40 .286
Philadelphia 76ers 55 15-40 .273
Milwaukee Bucks 54 10-44 .185


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