Celtics up to No. 8 in ESPN power rankings, are they the third-best team in the East?

No. 8 Jonas Jerekbo thinks so.
In his latest NBA power rankings, ESPN's Marc Stein has the Celtics in the No. 8 position overall (up from No. 11 last week).  Following a nod to Isaiah Thomas' All-Star appearance, Stein says the following about Boston:

Yet the glee isn't quite what it could be, because C's fans know this team really should have a grip on the East's No. 3 seed by now.

Had the Celtics won in Orlando on Sunday (or another game or two along the way), they'd currently be the sole occupants of the Eastern Conference's No. 3 spot.  Despite this setback, Stein still rates the No. 8 Celts (27-22) third in the East, behind No. 3 Toronto (32-15) and No. 4 Cleveland (34-12), but ahead of No. 9 Chicago (26-20), No. 11 Miami (27-21), No. 12 Detroit (26-23), No. 14 Indiana (25-23) and No. 15 Atlanta (28-22).

If Boston can win tonight in New York and the Heat lose in Houston, the C's will move into a tie for third/fourth with the Hawks.  The Celtics may still prove to be the conference's third-best squad, but the same can also be said for the five other clubs listed above.  After the Cavs and Raptors, the East's final six playoff teams are separated by just two games in the standings.

Follow Mark Vandeusen on Twitter @LucidSportsFan