Five Years of Division Domination

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Five Years of Division Domination

"I'm not about to go pop some champagne bottles or anything like that, like I know they do in baseball. It's a good accomplishment, I guess. But all we care about around here is a championship banner."

That was Paul Pierce after last night's Atlantic Division-clinching victory, and you understand where he's coming from.

Can you imagine how awkward it would have been if the Celtics really celebrated last night's win? If the final buzzer sounded, and everyone stormed the court. If Pierce hopped up on the scorer's table, five fingers in the air. If KG ran out, kissed the floor, and then broke down in tears during his post game interview: "This one's for you, Ray! This one's for Jermaine, and Jeff and Chris. This one's for everyone, man! Now go to sleep, Boo Boo!"

No, you can't imagine it. Because it would never happen.

It doesn't matter that this was far and away the most difficult division title of the Big 3 era. It doesn't matter that it was more than likely the last (with everyone still intact). It doesn't matter how many times they were counted out along the way. These Celtics don't celebrate division titles. At least not in public. Pierce saying, "it's a good accomplishment, I guess" is about as celebratory as we're going to get.

BUT because winning even one division title, never mind five straight, is still a more than impressive feat. And since, like I said, this is more than likely the final time the Big 3 will win one together, I spent some time putting together this list:

Fun Facts About the Atlantic Division Five-Peat.

Enjoy.

Their first division game together was November 4, 2007, with the Celtics beating the Raptors, 98-95 in OT. Ray Allen had 33 point in 49 minutes. KG had 23 and 13. TJ Ford scored 32 points for Toronto, followed by Rajon Rondo spending the night tied to a pipe in Tom Thibodeau's basement. (Note: I'll always remember this game because it was on at the same time as the PatriotsColts. I have nothing more to add on that)

The most points they've scored in a division game is 124, in a win against the Knicks on December 21, 2008. Rondo led the way with 26, Ray Allen had 18 and Brian Scalabrine fouled out in 14 minutes. The win was Boston's 18th in a row, and improved them to 26-2, which tied the best start in NBA history for a team with two losses.

The fewest points they've scored: 71. That happened all the way back on March 7, 2012, in a 32 point loss to Philadelphia. Remember that? OK, good. No need for details.

Since the Atlantic Division was created in 1970, no team has ever won more than five titles in a row. But this is the third time the Celtics have won exactly five (72-76 and 84-88). Also, the Celtics have now won a total of 21 Atlantic Division titles. The next closest team is Philadelphia, with 5.

If this is the end for the Big Three, they'll finish their five year run with a combined 63-15 record in the Atlantic. Over that time, they lost only four division home games Toronto, New Jersey and Philly x2.

Not that this is remotely important, but how about the fact that the Celtics lost consecutive division games only twice in five years? The most recent stretch came last month with two losses to Sixers (with no division games in between). Before that, the only other time was last March, when the C's followed up a loss to the Sixers with a disgusting loss in New Jersey. Judging by the box score, this was right in the middle of the "Rondo misses Perk and got burned by Obama" era. Good times.

The list is now over.

So, congrats to the Celtics on a fifth straight Atlantic Division title. It's been an unbelievable run, and regardless of what happens next, it's one that we'll always remember and respect, and at some point maybe even celebrate.

But for now there are more important things on everyone's mind.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Some clarification on why Bruins may opt for ATO with Charlie McAvoy rather than playing him in the NHL

Some clarification on why Bruins may opt for ATO with Charlie McAvoy rather than playing him in the NHL

The second BU’s season ended, Bruins fans were champing (it’s champing, not chomping; look it up) to get sophomore defenseman Charlie McAvoy to the NHL. 

So when word emerged from Bob McKenzie that it’s looking like McAvoy will join Providence on an amateur tryout, eyes rolled. Why not sign McAvoy to his three-year entry level contract, have him stay in Boston and get some NHL experience. After all, we hear over and over that as long as you don’t play 10 NHL games, a year doesn’t get burned. 

The answer is because that 10-game thing doesn’t apply to everyone. It applies when talking about teenagers who are coming from the CHL, which is when the issue most commonly pops up, a la Tyler Seguin in 2010-11. 

Yet much like it didn’t apply to Torey Krug when he signed with the Bruins in 2012, it doesn’t apply to McAvoy now. The reason some kids can play nine games and then go away without a year being burned is because their contract slides. Players who are 18 or 19 years old as of Sept. 15 of their signing year see their deal moved back a year as long as they don’t play 10 NHL games, including the playoffs. 

For players who are 19 as of Sept. 15 of the year they sign (not season) and turn 20 between Sept. 16 and Dec. 31, their contract does not slide. This is all explained neatly here. 

If you’ve fallen asleep by this point, wake up right quick. McAvoy is 19 and will turn 20 on Dec. 21. That means that if McAvoy and signs and plays an NHL game this season, one year will be burned off his entry-level deal, making him up for a new deal after the 2018-19 season rather than the 2019-20 season. Same goes for Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, who already is 20. 

The Bruins actually used this drawback to their advantage when they signed Krug. The B’s let the 20-year-old Krug play in an NHL game after he signed, which got him to restricted free agency a year earlier. The promise to play him and burn that year was likely a reason Krug chose to sign with the B’s as an undrafted free agent. 

So for now, yes, an ATO is the safe play for the Bruins if they want to maximize the value of McAvoy’s entry level deal. His NHL career might have to wait until the fall. 
 

Felger: 'The Oakland Raiders are garbage, and they always have been'

Felger: 'The Oakland Raiders are garbage, and they always have been'

Want a classic Felger rant? Or forget Felger; a classic rant, period?

Watch the video above as Michael Felger eviscerates the Oakland Raiders.

"You know what the Oakland Raiders are? And their fans, and their city? A bunch of dirtbags," Felger said Tuesday on Felger & Mazz. "If that's not the most overrated team and organization in the history of sports, I don't know what is . . . That is a garbage organization and it has always has been.

"And the way people are treating them now, like . . . the Green Bay Packers or the Boston Celtics or the Montreal Canadiens or the New York Yankees are moving, is laughable. Laughable! The Oakland Raiders are garbage. And they always have been."

There's more . . . ,much more. Watch the video to hear the full treatment.