NBA playoff standings 2014: Hawks fading fast, Mavericks on outside looking in

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Hawks have lost five games in a row and are in danger of falling out of the playoffs. In Dallas, the Mavs blew a fourth-quarter lead to the Clippers and are currently No. 9 in the West.

Not too long ago, it looked like the Atlanta Hawks had righted the ship after a 1-14 stretch had them in danger of falling out of the playoff race. But since a five-game winning streak, the Hawks have gone into another tailspin, and the possibility of missing the playoffs is as real as ever.

Atlanta has lost five straight games, with the latest being a 100-85 defeat at home against the Portland Trail Blazers. Kyle Korver's absence due to back spasms has coincided with the five-game losing streak, and the Hawks have clearly missed the sharpshooter.

With the loss, Atlanta is now just 1½ games ahead of the New York Knicks and three games ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks are two games better in the loss column than the Knicks and also hold the tiebreaker because of a better conference record, so they do have that going for them. However, that might not matter if Atlanta just keeps on losing.

No other East playoff teams played on Thursday, so there were no other changes. The Indiana Pacers remain three games ahead of the Miami Heat at the top of conference after a stirring victory on Wednesday. The Toronto Raptors hold the No. 3 seed, although the Chicago Bulls do have an identical 40-31 record.

Three games separate the No. 5 Brooklyn Nets and No. 7 Charlotte Bobcats, with the Washington Wizards right in between both squads at No. 6.

Here's a full look at the East playoff race (y - clinched division):

1. y - Indiana Pacers 52 20 -
2. y - Miami Heat 48 22 3
3. Toronto Raptors 40 31 11½
4. Chicago Bulls 40 31 11½
5. Brooklyn Nets 37 33 14
6. Washington Wizards 36 35 15½
7. Charlotte Bobcats 35 37 17
8. Atlanta Hawks 31 40 20½
9. New York Knicks 30 42 22
10. Cleveland Cavaliers 29 44 23½

Over in the Western Conference, the Dallas Mavericks suffered a tough loss at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers. The Mavs led by 11 points early in the fourth quarter, but the Clippers stormed back and nabbed a 109-103 victory behind 31 points and nine assists from Chris Paul.

The loss dropped Dallas a half-game behind the Phoenix Suns for the final playoff spot in the West. The Memphis Grizzlies are just a half-game ahead of the Suns, while the Golden State Warriors are a game ahead of the Grizzlies in the sixth slot.

The aforementioned Blazers' win over the Hawks has Portland fans breathing a little sigh of relief, as a loss would have had them percentage points behind Golden State.

Both the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder were idle, so the Spurs still hold a three-game lead on top of the conference. The Clippers' win has them two games behind the Thunder, and the Houston Rockets' demolition of the Philadelphia 76ers has the Rockets a game behind Los Angeles in the fourth spot.

Here's a closer look at the West playoff race (x - clinched playoff berth):

1. x - San Antonio Spurs 55 16 -
2. x - Oklahoma City Thunder 52 19 3
3. Los Angeles Clippers 51 22 5
4. Houston Rockets 49 22 6
5. Portland Trail Blazers 46 27 10
6. Golden State Warriors 44 27 11
7. Memphis Grizzlies 43 28 12
8. Phoenix Suns 43 29 12½
9. Dallas Mavericks 43 30 13

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