The Celtics are one of the hottest teams in the NBA

The Boston Celtics claimed the three seed in the Eastern Conference for the time being after defeating the Sacramento Kings yesterday afternoon. The C's also extended their record to 31-22 on the year, a season-best nine games over .500.

Over the last 10 games, the Celtics are 9-1 and only two other teams have been as successful during the same stretch: the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors. That's some elite company to be in right now. The Raptors just recently lost their 11-game win streak in a blowout loss in Denver, while the Warriors last loss came on January 17th. Also, with the Raptors streak being snapped, the Celtics now possess the longest current win streak in the Eastern Conference.

So what's been the key? Well, you've got Isaiah Thomas playing some of his best basketball of the season, grabbing Eastern Conference player of the week today and also making insane plays on defense against massive dudes. Then Tyler Zeller has reemerged from his spot deeeeeeeeep on the bench. To put it into perspective: Zeller averaged just under 10 minutes a game in January, posting 3.5 points per game and 2.9 rebounds per game. In February? 20.5 minutes with 13.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG. He's posted double digits in points in 3 of his last 4 games including 16 against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He's a different player. Then you've got Avery Bradley scorching defenses from outside. The two-guard shot 6-for-7 from deep against Sacramento and tallied 25 points in the win. Plus his shot heard round the NBA that sank the Cavs at the buzzer just a few nights before.

The Celtics have now even secured the 3 seed according to BPI predictions. Cue Chris Forsberg:

Add all that together, throw in solid contributions from the rest of the team, and you've got winning basketball. The question is how far this team can go. The Hawks and the Heat are sitting right on tails of the Celtics, 1 and 1.5 games back respectively. The rest of the Eastern Conference isn't too far behind either, as 9th place is only 5 games below the C's. But for the time being, Boston is winning, and they are sitting in the top half of the Eastern Conference standings almost heading into the All-Star break. For now, life is good as a Boston Celtics fan.

Topher Lane is on Twitter, @Topher_L. Photo credit: Steven Senne/AP Photo.