Red Hot Maine Celtics return to Portland Expo for two-game series

Maine Celtics head coach Jarell Christian gives instructions during a practice Wednesday at the Portland Expo. At 9-1, the team has the second best record in the NBA G League. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

It has been almost a month since the Maine Celtics played a game at the Portland Expo.

On November 19, to be exact, a 118-91 win over Capitol City. And the Celtics haven’t lost since.

In fact, the Celtics have won seven straight games and at 9-1 have the second-best record in the NBA G League, just behind the Delaware Blue Coats 10-1 – the only team to beat Maine this season on November 1. . 12. The Celtics responded by handing Delaware their only loss the next day.

“It’s crazy,” said guard/forward Theo Pinson. “I think it’s fair, you never know with our team who’s going to have a good night. We’re going to have one or two guys, maybe the whole team, have a good night. We’re pretty evenly balanced.

The Celtics face the Long Island Nets in back-to-back games Thursday and Friday at Expo, with both games starting at 7 p.m. Entry to Expo requires proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result. Masks must be worn inside the Expo.

“We love the fans, that’s what drives us,” said guard Brodric Thomas, who leads the Celtics with 18.3 points per game and 2.2 steals. “We can’t wait to see the fans come and watch us continue this good run we’re on.”

What they will see is a team operating with great efficiency at both ends of the field. The Celtics are averaging 115.3 points per game (fourth in the G League), while leading the league in field goal percentage (50%), 3 points scored (165), 3-point percentage (41, 6%) and assists (28.3 per game). They’re only allowing 100.8 points per game.

Beyond that, the Celtics average eight players in double digits, led by Thomas and Pinson (17.3 points). Guard Sam Hauser, like Thomas a player on a two-way contract (he played with the Boston Celtics this week but is expected to be back for Thursday’s game), is averaging 17.1 points, followed by Jaysean Paige ( 13.8), Chris Clemons (13.7) and Luke Kornet (13.0).

Maine Celtics’ Brodric Thomas looks for an open teammate during practice Wednesday at the Portland Expo. Thomas leads the Celtics with 18.3 points per game and 2.2 steals. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

“We have a lot of veterans,” Thomas said. “So it’s easy to play against each other because we understand the points and the spacing of this game at this level. When you have a group of guys willing to sacrifice for the best of the team, that helps. everyone’s game as a whole. You see team and individual success when everyone is on the same page.”

“We’ve got a really good team, a lot of guys making plays for each other,” Pinson said. “When you share the ball like we do, it’s hard to keep.”

Head coach Jarell Christian said it all starts in training, where players push each other and hold each other accountable. “We have a lot of guys who understand what the right way to play is,” he said.

In a league known for its offense, Maine’s defense has been most impressive. And it is not a hazard.

“We know if we want to win we have to defend,” Pinson said. “We are doing a good job with our programs. And we have a lot of guys who know if they want to come back to the (NBA) and have quality minutes, we have to defend.

Thomas added: “I think (defence) is the biggest separation when it comes to players. Can you defend? There are a lot of guys at this level who can put the ball in the basket.

Swingman Theo Pinson is averaging 17.3 points per game for the Maine Celtics, but he says it’s the team’s defense that stands out. “We know that if we want to win, we have to defend.” Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Christian said Thomas has had a big impact defensively since his return. He missed the first four games of the season due to injury.

“He leads it in defense,” Christian said. “It just adds to the complexion of the team. You have to understand that if you want to play in the NBA, you have to be able to hold your position. And that’s something our guys understand.

They also understand that team success will potentially lead to individual success and possible NBA call-ups.

“I think we understand that the more we earn, the more recognition everyone will get,” Pinson said. “That’s what we do, try to win games and play together at the same time.”

REMARKS: After the two games against Long Island, the Celtics will take part in the Winter Showcase in Las Vegas, starting Sunday and ending Dec. 22. All NBA G League teams are guaranteed two games in the Showcase, with the top eight teams playing in the Showcase Cup Tournament. The winning team receives not only a trophy, but a prize of $100,000 to be divided among its members. “We have a lot of competitors on this team,” said Pinson. “We will do everything to win.” … After the showcase, the NBA G League season will reset to a 36-game regular season that will not include records for games played prior to the showcase. Christian said the restart will give the team a chance to assess what they have been doing. “Things that we have done well, we will continue to try to implement,” he said. “The things that we haven’t done well and the teams haven’t taken advantage of yet, we’ll be looking to improve.”

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