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G-League playoff preview: Maine Celtics begin postseason run tonight in Portland

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The Maine Celtics (21-13) begin a potential playoff run tonight with a single elimination game against the Delaware Blue Coats (19-15). Winners of 10 of their last 12 games, the Celtics’ G-league affiliate enjoyed a strong finish to the season en route to securing the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

In turn, they faced the #6 seed Blue Coats — Philadelphia’s G-League affiliate — who won their first playoff game on Tuesday night to secure their spot in tonight’s matchup. The Blue Coats are the defending champions, but were led last year by a different cast of players, which included the Celtics’ now very own Jaden Springer taking home the Finals MVP honors.

Tonight’s game will take place at the Portland Expo in Portland Maine, and will tip-off at 7 pm on ESPNews.

Players to Watch

Two-way guard JD Davison has been the engine that’s made it all go this season, averaging 20.8 points, 8.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game in his second full year with the Maine Celtics. But he sprained his left ankle last week in a game against the College Park Skyhawks, and his status tonight is uncertain. Sources told CelticsBlog it’s possible he could return from a week-long absence in time for the first postseason game.

DJ Stewart, who has been the team’s second-leading scorer, also in jeopardy of missing tonight’s matchup, also with a sprained ankle. Stewart, who’s averaging 19.4 points and 4 assists, is listed as questionable, and has been a key contributor off of the bench all year long, particularly in Davison’s absence.

In the front court, Neemias Queta has only played in eight games for Maine — but he’s had a sizable impact, putting up 14 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2 blocks in just 22 minutes a night. Queta played a more significant role on the big club earlier in the season, but as of late, he has spent more time with Maine.

When CelticsBlog caught up with Queta last week, he said he was looking forward to making a playoff run with his Maine Celtics teammates.

“It might be a time where I come with Boston,” Queta said. “But hopefully I can keep playing, being able to help the team here in Maine.”

Jordan Walsh, the Celtics’ second-round draft pick who has been on assignment in the G-League for most of this season, has been playing his best basketball as of late. He’s coming off a career-high 27-point night, which included a game-clinching free throw that secured the team’s first-round bye.

Walsh has averaged 14.7 points and 7.4 rebounds this season, while generally being tasked with the most difficult defensive assignment of the night.

Drew Peterson, another two-player on the Celtics, has been one of the most well-balanced players on the roster. He’s averaged 16.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 5.6 assists, and put up two triple-doubles in recent weeks. His ability to be a connector in the Maine Celtics offense will be something to monitor, especially if Maine is without its two leading scorers.

Joe Wieskamp, the former Iowa University standout acquired mid-season, has been extremely efficient offensively – putting up 16.8 points on 52.9% shooting, including 42.4% from downtown. If Davison and Stewart miss tonight’s game, Wieskamp will likely be relied upon to step up offensively.

For the Blue Coats, two-way players Ricky Council IV and Jeff Dowtin Jr. are expected to lead the charge. Council has put up 23.1 points per game this season — and came third in G League rookie of the year voting — while Dowtin has averaged 19.1 points. Kenneth Lofton was a big part of the team for most of the season, but is no longer with Delaware.

The Boston Celtics could show up to support

Last week, the Maine Celtics played two games in College Park, George — and their Boston Celtics teammates, also spending the week in Atlanta, showed up to watch. Jordan Walsh said his teammates’ presence served as motivation for him on the sideline.

With the Celtics off tonight, some players and members of the organization are again expected to make the trip to support the G League affiliate and teammates Walsh, Queta, Davison, and Peterson.

Playoff Picture

The winner of tomorrow night’s match-up between the Maine Celtics and the Delaware Blue Coats will advance to the Conference Finals. Whoever wins tonight will face the winner of the Osceola Magic and the Long Island Nets in another single-elimination game. Finally, the winner of that game will head to a three-game G-League Finals series, slated to begin on April 9th.



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