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.
Hibbert on losing the No. 1 seed to Miami: "Good for them. We don't deserve it."— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) April 1, 2014
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):
|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):
|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|