PORTLAND – The Maine Red Claws finish their regular-season home schedule at 7 p.m. Thursday against the Erie BayHawks with a couple of interesting factors for the home crowd.
Portland Expo fans will get a chance to see scoring sensation Jermaine Taylor for the first time. And they will watch their Red Claws try to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Maine (24-23) is in a four-way battle for the final two playoff spots in the NBA D-League.
The other three contenders are Sioux Falls (24-21), Fort Wayne (23-22) and Erie (23-22).
Those three teams have five games remaining, while Maine has three left, all against the BayHawks — Thursday, and then April 5 and 6 in Erie.
If teams finish tied in the standings, the first tiebreaker is head-to-head competition. Sioux Falls has the advantage over Maine, while the Red Claws have the advantage over Fort Wayne.
Maine and Erie are 3-3 against each other. Maine will likely have to beat the BayHawks at least twice in the final three games.
“We’re taking them one at a time,” Red Claws Coach Mike Taylor naturally said.
“We have control over what we need to get done. With a good effort from everyone involved, it’s right there for us.”
Now in its fourth year in the league, Maine has never made the playoffs.
One factor in Maine’s favor is the addition of 6-foot-4 guard Taylor, who the Red Claws acquired on their last trip. In five games, Taylor is averaging 30.2 points a game, including a 49-point performance in Maine’s win over Springfield — 20 of 30 from the field, and 7 of 7 from the free-throw line.
“Been a great addition. Made an instant impact on the offensive side,” Taylor said. “He’s a natural, scores in a lot of different ways.”
Taylor, 26, was a second-round draft pick by the Washington Wizards in 2009, out of the University of Central Florida. The Wizards sold Taylor to Houston on draft day. Houston traded him to Sacramento in December 2010. He was released the next summer.
Taylor was in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ training camp last fall. After he was waived in October, Taylor played all over the world, in Spain, Israel and China. He entered the D-League player pool recently and the Red Claws signed him.
NOTES: Maine added another player during its trip, signing 7-5 center Will Foster, who had been waived by Sioux Falls. Guard Gabe Pruitt has left the team to play in Greece. Pruitt played only four games, averaging 3.5 points. …
Former Red Claws point guard Shelvin Mack signed with the Atlanta Hawks for the remainder of the season. DaJuan Summers signed a second 10-day contract with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or firstname.lastname@example.org