NBA playoff standings 2014: Memphis Grizzlies holding on to 8th spot, Knicks clawing back

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

There's less than three weeks until the NBA regular season is over. Let's take a look at the playoff standings.

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The Memphis Grizzlies did not look like a playoff team a couple of months ago. Marc Gasol, last season's Defensive Player of the Year, was nursing an ankle injury and Memphis' usually stingy defense was somewhere in the bottom half of the league.

The Grizzlies are 26-10 since Gasol returned to the lineup on Jan. 14 and they would face the San Antonio Spurs in the first round if the season ended today. But that recent success hasn't given Memphis any breathing room because the Dallas Mavericks are right on the trail.

Memphis' winning percentage (59.7) barely edges out Dallas (59.5) and the Mavericks would claim the eighth spot if the Grizzlies were to drop their next game. And then there's the Phoenix Suns, who are just a half game up on both Memphis and Dallas.

A Memphis win would tie Phoenix's record and one Phoenix loss would level it with Dallas. OK so this is really confusing, let's just look at the Western Conference standings.

San Antonio1x 57 16 0.781 0.0 34-10 10-3 29-8 28-8 10-0 W 17
Oklahoma City2x 53 19 0.736 3.5 31-13 10-5 30-7 23-12 7-3 W 1
L.A. Clippers3x 52 22 0.703 5.5 31-13 9-4 31-5 21-17 8-2 W 2
Houston4 49 23 0.681 7.5 26-18 9-4 29-8 20-15 6-4 L 1
Portland5 47 27 0.635 10.5 24-20 12-3 26-9 21-18 5-5 W 2
Golden State6 45 27 0.625 11.5 25-18 9-5 24-12 21-15 7-3 W 1
Phoenix7 44 29 0.603 13.0 24-19 7-6 25-13 19-16 8-2 W 6
Memphis8 43 29 0.597 13.5 24-20 3-11 23-14 20-15 7-3 L 1
Dallas 44 30 0.595 13.5 24-20 9-5 25-13 19-17 6-4 W 1
Minnesota 36 35 0.507 20.0 20-25 7-8 21-14 15-21 5-5 W 2
New Orleanso 32 41 0.438 25.0 13-30 3-11 20-17 12-24 6-4 L 1
Denvero 32 41 0.438 25.0 16-27 4-11 19-17 13-24 5-5 L 3
Sacramentoo 25 48 0.342 32.0 12-31 2-10 15-21 10-27 3-7 L 3
L.A. Lakerso 24 48 0.333 32.5 12-30 5-7 13-22 11-26 3-7 L 2
Utaho 23 50 0.315 34.0 11-33 3-9 15-21 8-29 1-9 L 3

via NBA.com

The Eastern Conference is a little less dramatic. The New York Knicks have clawed their way up and are just 1.5 games back of the flailing Atlanta Hawks, who have loss six straight games. What's especially bizarre about the Hawks recent downfall is that they won five straight before the current losing streak started.

Two months ago, we were talking about Atlanta as a potential three-seed. Now, it's a real possibility that it will miss the postseason altogether.

Al Horford's pectoral injury was especially damaging. Horford was playing like an All-Star and was the catalyst of Atlanta's offense and defense. Before his departure, the Hawks had a net rating of plus-2.4. Now both their offense and defense has swung about four points in opposite directions. Their net rating with Horford out is minus-4.5, according to NBA.com/stats.

The door is now open for the Knicks to make a late run into the playoffs. New York has shot itself in the foot over and over this season, but it has a real chance to play in the postseason. That would help ease what has been a painful year.

Here are the full standings in the East:

Indiana1c 52 21 0.712 0.0 35-10 10-3 33-4 19-17 6-4 L 1
Miami2se 50 22 0.694 1.5 30-14 12-2 28-6 22-16 6-4 W 2
Toronto3x 41 31 0.569 10.5 26-17 10-3 22-14 19-17 6-4 W 2
Chicago4x 40 32 0.556 11.5 28-15 9-5 23-14 17-18 6-4 L 1
Brooklyn5 38 33 0.535 13.0 22-21 8-5 24-11 14-22 7-3 W 1
Washington6 38 35 0.521 14.0 27-16 8-4 19-17 19-18 5-5 W 2
Charlotte7 35 38 0.479 17.0 22-21 2-10 21-16 14-22 6-4 L 1
Atlanta8 31 41 0.431 20.5 21-21 7-7 20-14 11-27 4-6 L 6
New York 30 43 0.411 22.0 21-24 6-6 16-21 14-22 7-3 L 1
Cleveland 29 45 0.392 23.5 17-27 5-8 16-20 13-25 5-5 L 1
Detroit 26 47 0.356 26.0 20-24 5-7 15-23 11-24 2-8 L 3
Boston 23 49 0.319 28.5 19-23 5-9 15-22 8-27 2-8 L 3
Orlandoo 21 52 0.288 31.0 16-28 4-10 17-18 4-34 2-8 W 2
Philadelphiao 16 57 0.219 36.0 11-33 3-9 9-29 7-28 1-9 W 1
Milwaukeeo 14 59 0.192 38.0 11-32 3-9 9-28 5-31 1-9 L 1

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