NBA playoff standings are starting to take shape with teams pulling away in the East and West. The updated NBA playoff standings have the Cleveland Cavaliers four games ahead of the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors atop the Eastern Conference. In the Western Conference, the Golden State Warriors are having trouble pulling away from the San Antonio Spurs, but both teams are clearly set up to win the top two conference playoff spots. The elite teams are winning games at a frenetic pace as the halfway point of the NBA regular season approaches.
In the midst of a seven-game winning streak, the Cavaliers have improved to 19-6 against the East and 26-9 overall. The Cavaliers are also 15-1 at home and getting better as the roster gets healthy. With Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert contributing in a major way, the Cavaliers now have one of the deeper rosters in the NBA. The goal for the team, though, is to make it all the way to the 2016 NBA Playoffs with a healthy roster. That plan didn’t work out when the Cavs had to play shorthanded against the Golden State Warriors in the 2015 NBA Finals.
The Warriors are also playing impressive basketball, having sat stop the NBA playoff standings in the West since the first game of the regular season. Now the team is 35-2 overall, with a 17-0 record at home and a 23-1 record against Western Conference opponents. Even with a six-game winning streak, though, the Warriors can’t seem to pull away from the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are now on a seven-game winning streak, improving to 32-6 on the season. The Spurs are also undefeated at home, holding the best home record in the NBA at 22-0 so far.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are the Philadelphia 76ers, who the Cleveland Cavaliers beat 95-85 on Sunday, January 10. The 76ers are now just 4-36 on the season and heading to one of the worst records in NBA history. The 76ers might have some competition for that first pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, as the LA Lakers have dropped to 8-30. The 76ers and Lakers are clearly the worst teams in the league with neither franchise showing a real need to win games on a nightly basis.
The rest of the NBA playoff standings in the East has the Chicago Bulls (22-13) at No. 2, the Toronto Raptors (24-15) at No. 3, and the Atlanta Hawks (23-15) at No. 4. The rest of the Eastern Conference playoff teams are currently the No. 5 Miami Heat (22-15), No. 6 Indiana Pacers (21-15), No. 7 Detroit Pistons (21-16), and No. 8 Orlando Magic (20-17). The No. 9 Boston Celtics (19-18) are just half a game out of the playoffs and the No. 10 New York Knicks (19-20) are just one-and-a-half games back of Orlando. This shows how competitive the conference has become and how things could shake up again this week.
In the Western Conference playoff standings, the Golden State Warriors are three and a half games ahead of the San Antonio Spurs (32-6) and nine games ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder (26-11). All eight current playoff teams in the West have won their last game, including a nice nine-game winning streak by the No. 4 LA Clippers (25-13). The rest of the standings are the No. 5 Dallas Mavericks at 22-16, the No. 6 Memphis Grizzlies at 21-18, the No. 7 Houston Rockets at 18-19, and the No. 8 Utah Jazz at 16-20. Currently, the 15-22 Sacramento Kings are at No. 9 and the 15-24 Portland Trail Blazers are at No. 10.
In the updated NBA All-Star Game vote, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors leads the Western Conference and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers leads the Eastern Conference in the polls. The current voters aren’t rewarding players on the San Antonio Spurs, as Manu Ginobili is eighth in guards, Tony Parker is ninth in guards, Kawhi Leonard is fourth in frontcourt players, Tim Duncan is seventh, and LaMarcus Aldridge is 11th. Individual achievements might not matter much to the Spurs, though, if the team can move up the NBA playoff standings in the West.
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