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NBA Playoff standings: Cavs in line to face off with rival Pistons in first round

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As the season winds down, the playoff race takes shape

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons haven't been to the playoffs in awhile, but have been steadily moving forward as a team since Stan Van Gundy took the job before last season. With Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Stanley Johnson, Tobias Harris, and Andre Drummond, they are assembling an intriguing mix of talent that can perhaps grow up together. If the season ended today, the 39-35 Pistons would be the 8th seed in a surprisingly deeper Eastern Conference than we're used to seeing. They're also just .5 games back of the Indiana Pacers.

It might not be the Pistons time just yet, and it's not clear where or if or how they can find another star to pair with Drummond. It's also not clear whether or not Drummond will fulfill his considerable defensive potential. But the cantankerous Van Gundy clearly loves coaching his team, even when he's ripping for them for inconsistency. Some people are at their happiest when they can express themselves in loving exasperation, and Van Gundy is one of them.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, meanwhile, have a somewhat comfortable three game cushion over the Toronto Raptors, who likewise have an intriguing batch of talent while playing inconsistent defense. With time running short, it's hard to see the Cavs forfeiting that kind of lead, even if they don't care much to protect it. What do the standings look like?

From espn.com:

Eastern Conference
W L PCT GB HOME ROAD DIV CONF PPG OPP PPG DIFF STRK L10
1y -Cleveland Cavaliers 52 21 .712 - 30-6 22-15 7-5 30-14 103.9 97.9 +6.1 W1 7-3
2x -Toronto Raptors 49 24 .671 3 28-9 21-15 11-2 33-12 102.9 98.5 +4.4 L1 6-4
3Atlanta Hawks 45 30 .600 8 24-13 21-17 8-7 27-19 102.9 98.9 +4.0 W4 9-1
4Miami Heat 43 30 .589 9 25-13 18-17 9-5 27-19 99.6 98.2 +1.5 W2 6-4
5Boston Celtics 43 31 .581 9.5 25-12 18-19 10-6 29-19 105.6 102.1 +3.4 L1 5-5
6Charlotte Hornets 42 31 .575 10 27-11 15-20 7-7 27-16 103.2 100.8 +2.4 W1 7-3
7Indiana Pacers 39 34 .534 13 23-13 16-21 6-7 24-19 101.8 100.4 +1.4 W1 6-4
8Detroit Pistons 39 35 .527 13.5 24-13 15-22 8-6 25-21 102.4 101.6 +0.7 L1 6-4
Washington Wizards 36 37 .493 16 19-19 17-18 8-6 26-21 103.5 104.4 -0.9 W1 6-4
Chicago Bulls 36 37 .493 16 24-14 12-23 7-5 21-25 101.5 103.2 -1.6 L4 4-6