Not a lot has changed since our last look at the NBA Standings. The Atlanta Hawks saw their 19-game winning streak end Monday in New Orleans but they have increased their lead in the Eastern Conference and still look like they are poised to run away with the top seed in the East.
The Toronto Raptors are still in second place but are eight games back after Wednesday's disappointing home loss to the Brooklyn Nets. The Hawks handed the Wizards their fourth straight loss and increased their lead over Washington to 10 games in the Southeast Division. The Chicago Bulls continue to limp into the All-Star break and have now lost three straight and are 11 games back in the standings.
Here is a look at the Eastern Conference Standings heading into play on Thursday:
|1. Atlanta Hawks||41||9||.820||0.0||W 1|
|2. Toronto Raptors||33||17||.660||8.0||L 2|
|3. Washington Wizards||31||19||.620||10.0||L 4|
|4. Cleveland Cavaliers||30||20||.600||11.0||W 11|
|5. Chicago Bulls||30||20||.600||11.0||L 3|
|6. Milwaukee Bucks||27||22||.551||13.5||W 5|
|7. Charlotte Hornets||21||27||.438||19.0||W 2|
|8. Miami Heat||21||28||.429||.429||L 2|
|Brooklyn Nets||20||28||.417||20.0||W 2|
|Detroit Pistons||19||31||.380||22.0||L 1|
|Boston Celtics||18||30||.375||22.0||W 2|
|Indiana Pacers||18||32||.360||23.0||W 1|
|Orlando Magic||15||37||.288||27.0||L 10|
|Philadelphia 76ers||11||39||.220||30.0||W 1|
|New York Knicks||10||39||.204||30.5||L 1|
The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to surge and have won 11 straight and move up a spot to fourth place in the East Standings. Cleveland knocked off Philadelphia on Monday and have a prime time matchup against the Clippers on Thursday. The addition of center Timofey Mozgov has paid huge dividends defensively and the winning streak has silenced the rumors surrounding head coach David Blatt at least for now.
Just to put things in perspective to how well the Atlanta Hawks have been playing. The Cavaliers have won 11 straight games but have picked up exactly one half game in the standings on Atlanta.
In addition to the Bulls, the Orlando Magic continue to free fall in the standings. Orlando fell 110-103 in San Antonio Wednesday night for its 10th straight loss and rumors are swirling around head coach Jacque Vaughn. Clearly the Magic's young roster hasn't shown the improvement needed to absolve Vaughn of blame but the front office has also failed to produce a roster that cohesively fits. There is a lot of young talent in Orlando but they don't appear that they are any further along than they were a couple of seasons ago in their rebuild.
Race for Eighth
The bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff race is shaping up to be quite a battle among several sub .500 teams. Currently four games separate seventh place Charlotte and 12th place Indiana. Miami leads Brooklyn by just a half game for the eighth and final playoff spot entering Thursday. Detroit continues to search for answers in wake of Brandon Jennings season ending Achilles injury. Could teams like Boston and Indiana make a charge for the final playoff spot? Will be interesting to see what path these teams choose at the trade deadline.
Want further proof that tanking is an inexact science? The Philadelphia 76ers came into the season with an eye clearly on the future but with a head coach who has gotten the most out of an undermanned roster. They however have been out-tanked by a Knicks team that came into the season thinking about the playoffs.
The Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies have garnered a bit of separation in the Western Conference standings but the rest of the field remains a tight nit group with the standings in flux.
The Warriors have rebounded from a rare home loss to the Chicago Bulls and have won three straight and are headed into a huge regular season matchup with the Hawks on Friday. Golden State leads the Grizzlies by three games and the Houston Rockets by six in the standings.
Houston jumps up to third place in the standings but will be without Dwight Howard for at least a month after the center had a bone marrow procedure performed on his knee. The Trail Blazers are skidding a bit having lost seven of their last 10 games.
Here is a look at the up to the minute standings in the Western Conference
|1. Golden State Warriors||39||8||.830||0.0||W 3|
|2. Memphis Grizzlies||37||12||.755||3.0||W 8|
|3. Houston Rockets||34||15||.694||6.0||W 1|
|4. Portland Trail Blazers||33||16||.673||7.0||W 1|
|5. L.A. Clippers||33||16||.673||7.0||L 1|
|6. Dallas Mavericks||33||18||.647||8.0||L 1|
|7. San Antonio Spurs||31||18||.633||9.0||W 1|
|8. Phoenix Suns||28||22||.560||12.5||L 2|
|New Orleans Pelicans||26||23||.531||14.0||L 1|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||25||24||.510||15.0||W 2|
|Denver Nuggets||19||31||.380||21.5||L 4|
|Sacramento Kings||17||30||.362||22.0||L 1|
|Utah Jazz||17||32||.347||23.0||L 2|
|L.A. Lakers||13||36||.265||27.0||L 2|
|Minnesota Timberwolves||9||40||.184||31.0||W 1|
The Memphis Grizzlies are the hottest team in the West not named Golden State. The Grizzlies have gotten healthy and the addition of Jeff Green has paid dividends. Memphis knocked off the Utah Jazz Wednesday night but have only been able to trim one game off of Golden State's lead out west.
The Denver Nuggets have lost four straight and nine of their last 10. They are reeling and head coach Brian Shaw questioned the effort of his players suggesting that they aren't always playing hard. The Nuggets promptly responded with another poor effort in a loss to Philadelphia. So far management seems to be behind Shaw but a line will have to be drawn in the sand at some point. The Nuggets have several players that could impact the playoff push for other teams so they are someone to keep an eye on as the trade deadline draws near.
Race for Eighth
The Phoenix Suns continue to hold on to the eight spot out west but the New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder are right behind them. Phoenix has dropped two straight and their lead over the Pelicans is down to just 1.5 games over New Orleans.
Everyone seems to be focused on the Thunder but the Pelicans when healthy also present a challenge for opponents. Anthony Davis returned on Monday and led the charge as New Orleans snapped Atlanta's winning streak. Eric Gordon is back from a shoulder injury and is playing some of the best basketball of his career. Davis looks like an MVP candidate and the Pelicans don't look like they will be falling out of the race anytime soon.
Oklahoma City continues to be somewhat of an enigma although they have had some rotten injury luck this season. Kevin Durant is out again with a toe injury but Russell Westbrook has rallied the troops to two straight wins. At 25-24, the Thunder are 2.5 games back. The Suns missed the playoffs last season with 48 wins. That high of a number might not be needed this season but Oklahoma City is going to have to play lights out the rest of the way to even come close to that number.