Celtics once again climb to No. 9 in ESPN power rankings

Celtics No. 9.
For the second time this season, ESPN's Marc Stein has the Celtics ranked among the top 10 teams in the NBA.  With recent victories over the Heat and Kings, along with a narrow loss in San Antonio, Boston jumped three spots from No. 12 last week.

The 11-9 C's are rated sixth in the East, behind No. 3 Miami (12-6), No. 4 Chicago (11-6), No. 6 Cleveland (13-7), No. 7 Indiana (12-7) and No. 8 Toronto (12-9).  Immediately following the Celtics at No. 10 and No. 11 are Charlotte (11-8) and Atlanta (13-9).

After No. 1 Golden State (22-0) and the No. 2 Spurs (17-4), eight of the next nine squads are from the Eastern Conference (Oklahoma City is No. 5 at 12-8).

Don't be surprised if this is Boston's high-water mark for a while, as the men in green face a brutal upcoming schedule that features five of the aforementioned teams in seven games.

Follow Mark Vandeusen on Twitter @LucidSportsFan