NBA playoff standings 2014: Heat take top spot from Pacers, Spurs keep rolling along

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

After working so hard for the top spot, the Pacers have fallen to second in their conference.

Remember when the Indiana Pacers seemed like a lock to take the No. 1 seed in the East? Well, they've lost five of their last six games and their offense is a disaster. Even though the Miami Heat have struggled with injuries and inconsistency, and the Pacers managed to defeat them last week, they're in the top spot. Indiana is pretty bummed out about the whole thing.

The middle of the pack looks about the same as it has for the last little while, with the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls gunnin' for that No. 3 spot. The Charlotte Bobcats beat the Washington Wizards on Monday and sixth-place -- and a possible matchup with the Raptors, who Charlotte swept this season -- is not out of the question.

The New York Knicks are still alive for the eighth seed, a game back of Atlanta. The rest of their opponents are tough, though: Brooklyn, Washington, Miami, Toronto, Chicago, Brooklyn and Toronto, in that order. It's looking like all of those teams will be playing for positioning, too.

The Cavaliers have won four of their last five games instead of packing it in with Kyrie Irving out of the lineup, and their schedule is a million times easier than New York's. They'll face Orlando, Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, Milwaukee, Boston and Brooklyn. They will need that Hawks game. Irving has been cleared to return to practice, but his availability going forward is to be determined.

Here's a look at the playoff race in the East (x - clinched playoff berth, y - clinched division):

W L GB
1. y - Miami Heat 51 22 -
2. y - Indiana Pacers 52 23 -
3. x - Toronto Raptors 42 32 9.5
4. x - Chicago Bulls 42 32 9.5
5. Brooklyn Nets 39 33 11.5
6. Washington Wizards 38 36 13.5
7. Charlotte Bobcats 36 38 15.5
8. Atlanta Hawks 32 41 19
9. New York Knicks 32 43 20
10. Cleveland Cavaliers 30 45 22

The San Antonio Spurs have won 18 in a row, and it feels like a foregone conclusion that they will finish with the best record in the league. Not much has changed beneath them in the standings, and the bottom of the playoff picture is as insane as ever. There's a three-way tie between the Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks, and this battle will likely go on until the final day of the season.

The Golden State Warriors aren't in the clear yet -- things could look rather different for them if they lose in Dallas on Monday and San Antonio on Tuesday. Golden State has just a 1.5-game lead over the trio of teams tied for seventh.

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

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W L GB
1. x - San Antonio Spurs 58 16 -
2. x - Okahoma City Thunder 54 19 3.5
3. x - Los Angeles Clippers 53 22 5.5
4. Houston Rockets 49 23 8
5. Portland Trail Blazers 48 27 10.5
6. Golden State Warriors 45 28 12.5
7. Dallas Mavericks 44 30 14
8. Memphis Grizzlies 44 30 14
9. Phoenix Suns 44 30 14

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