June 18, 2018
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Red Claws to wear Celtics green for Friday’s home-opener

By Randy Whitehouse, Sun Journal

Maine Red Claws fans are accustomed to seeing green.

They will see more green than ever before when the Maine Red Claws open their NBA Development League home schedule 7 p.m. Friday against the Los Angeles Defenders at Portland Expo.

The Red Claws are now all about the green of the Boston Celtics, and will celebrate that by donning Celtics colors Friday night. Once shared with the Charlotte Bobcats and Philadelphia 76ers, the Red Claws now answer to Boston exclusively, and have a new coach, personnel and philosophy to reflect the burgeoning relationship.

The fact that the Defenders are the affiliate of the rival Los Angeles Lakers might even make the venerable Expo feel like the old Boston Garden.

The Red Claws are much more about Celtics future than Celtics past, however. Two of Boston’s three 2012 draft choices, first-round center Fab Melo and second-round swingman Kris Joseph, are starters.

Micah Downs, a free-agent guard who was among the last cuts from Boston’s preseason roster, is also a starter, along with forward Kris Wright and guard Shelvin Mack, Maine’s first-round draft pick in the D-League draft.

Maine started the season with a pair of road wins, over Canton and Fort Wayne. They have three players averaging over 20 points per game, led by Joseph (25.5 ppg). Wright (21.5 ppg), Downs (20.5 ppg) and Mack (19 ppg) are all well into double figures, while Melo is averaging eight points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 19 minutes per game.

The Celtics tabbed Mike Taylor as the team’s new head coach in September. Taylor was the top assistant coach for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and also has international experience as the head coach of the Czech Republic National Team.

“Mike impressed us with not only his coaching experience, but his enthusiasm and ability to develop young players,” Boston Celtics director of player personnel and former Red Claws coach Austin Ainge said in a statement. “He brings a blend of international and NBA D-League experience that will benefit the Celtics’ players assigned to Maine and the entire Red Claws’ roster.”

Taylor and the Celtics appear to have implemented an run-and-gun style that will stand out even in the fast-paced D-League. Maine is averaging 120 points per game in the early going and has already attempted 46 3-pointers through two games (shooting 33 percent).

Tickets are still available for Friday night’s game and Sunday’s matinee against Sioux Falls. The first 1,000 fans at Friday night’s game will receive “Beat LA” t-shirts.

All NBA D-League games are being streamed live this season on www.youtube.com/user/nbadleague.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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