NBA Standings 2014: Teams with Most to Gain or Lose Down the Stretch

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIApril 10, 2014

Miami Heat forward LeBron James plays against the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 9, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies won 107-102. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey

The NBA season is winding down in a hurry. Although most teams have locked up playoff berths, they continue jockeying for position heading into postseason action.

Many teams still have plenty to gain, while others have lots to lose over the final stretch of the season.

Let's take a look at some current trends and how they affect teams involved to determine which playoff contenders are in the best shape and which may be in some trouble going forward.

Here's a look at how the NBA standings currently look: 

NBA Standings (through April 9)
1. Indiana54250.684-34-620-1937-1312-4W13-7
2. Miami53250.679.531-822-1733-1512-2L26-4
3. Toronto46320.5907.525-1421-1830-1811-3W48-2
4. Chicago46320.5907.525-1421-1833-1510-5W68-2
5. Brooklyn43350.55110.527-1116-2425-239-6L16-4
6. Charlotte40380.51313.523-1617-2227-215-10W57-3
7. Washington40380.51313.520-1920-1929-198-6L25-5
8. Atlanta35430.44918.523-1612-2725-237-7W14-6
New York33450.42320.517-2216-2322-267-6L25-5
1. San Antonio60180.769-31-829-1036-1211-3L18-2
2. Oklahoma City57210.731332-725-1435-1511-5W27-3
3. L.A. Clippers55240.6965.532-723-1734-1511-4L17-3
4. Houston52260.667831-821-1829-199-4L16-4
5. Portland51280.6469.529-1022-1828-2112-3W26-4
6. Golden St.48290.62311.526-1322-1628-1910-5W27-3
7. Dallas48310.60812.525-1423-1728-219-5W47-3
8. Phoenix47310.6031326-1421-1727-217-8W38-2
New Orleans32460.4102820-1912-2713-353-11L64-6
L.A. Lakers25530.3213514-2511-2813-356-9L53-7

Now, down to business.

The battle atop the Eastern Conference continues to be intriguing.

Tom Lynn

The Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat continue to fight for home-court advantage. The interesting thing here is that it seems neither club is putting its best foot forward.

Miami began to surge, winning five of six games from the end of March into the beginning of April. However, the team has looked stagnant since.

An 88-87 loss to Brooklyn at home followed by a 107-102 loss on a road trip to Memphis does not instill confidence in this team heading into the postseason.

Ann Heisenfelt

Yes, the absence of Dwyane Wade plays a part here. Even LeBron James expressed his concern regarding the team's health during an interview with Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.

"I want to get healthy. That's all that we care about, man, going into the postseason healthy. We got more problems as far as health issues than the number-one seed," he said.

With the playoffs just over a week away, this comes as a major concern. Not only do the Heat stand to lose their contention for the top spot, but entering the playoffs at less than full strength is far from ideal.

Luckily for the Heat, Indiana hasn't exactly been doing its part to secure the top seed.

Having now lost seven of its last 10 games, Indiana seems to be saving its worst basketball for last.

The team is simply not clicking right now, losing games that should have resulted in rather easy victories. C.J. Watson's absence surely hurt this team. However, when he does get back on the court, he'll likely be on a pitch count.

Both of these teams have plenty to gain, as securing home-court advantage goes a long way. They must also get healthy, though.

If these two powerhouses can't rebound in time, they could make early exits from the playoffs due to the recent surging play of Toronto and Chicago.

The big fight for position in the Western Conference is at the bottom of the projected postseason standings.

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 4: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors in a game against the Sacramento Kings on April 4, 2014 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using th
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

With four teams—No. 6 Golden State, No. 7 Dallas, No. 8 Phoenix and Memphis—within 2.5 games of each other, the end of the season could provide plenty of changes here.

Each of these teams has been playing very well of late—they all hold winning records over their last 10 games played.

Obviously, the first priority here is to ensure a postseason berth. However, low-end seeding becomes a huge factor as well.

San Antonio and Oklahoma City figure to be the top two seeds entering the playoffs. Finishing at No. 7 or No. 8 does not provide the best chances of advancing further into postseason play.

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 9: Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers goes up for a dunk against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center on April 9, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by down
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Golden State has the most to lose in this scenario, as it currently holds the No. 6 seed. If the season ended on Thursday, the Warriors would face off against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs.

The team with the most to gain here is Memphis. The Grizzlies are on the outside looking in right now and a playoff berth—even as the eighth seed—is better than ending the season empty-handed.

Dallas and Phoenix are playing well, riding four-and three-game winning streaks, respectively. They'll be tough to catch, but Memphis is surely poised to make things interesting.


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