The Dancing Bear has finally arrived.

Now the big question for the Maine Red Claws is whether his show in Portland can last beyond one night.

For the third straight year, the Red Claws enter the NBA Development League playoffs with an Atlantic Division title, the recent loss of a dynamic guard and hopes of winning the first postseason game – let alone series – in franchise history.

As the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Claws (29-21) take on the No. 3 Fort Wayne Mad Ants (30-20) in a best-of-three series that begins 7 p.m. Tuesday in Indiana (Facebook Live) and continues Monday at the Portland Expo (8 p.m.). Game 3, if necessary, is scheduled for April 12 at the Expo at 7 p.m.

In the other Eastern series, No. 1 Raptors 905 (39-11) take on the No. 4 Canton Charge (29-21).

On Monday, the Orlando Magic signed the Red Claws’ Marcus Georges-Hunt, rekindling frustrating memories for Portland fans of losing Tim Frazier to the NBA in 2015 (Trail Blazers) and 2016 (Pelicans). But the arrival of Guerschon Yabusele may help ease the pain.

Yabusele is the 21-year-old power forward from France selected in the first round (16th overall) by the Celtics last June and sent to play in China for the winter. His rare combination of bulk and nimbleness earned him the Dancing Bear sobriquet while playing for Boston’s Summer League team.

Since securing a work visa and joining the Red Claws, Yabusele has played two games, both on the road, with an average of 10 rebounds and 18.5 points. Nearly half of his rebounds have come on the offensive end. He also made 4 of 5 3-point attempts in Saturday night’s season finale in Chicago.

“He definitely helps us on the glass,” said Maine Coach Scott Morrison. “He showed some good footwork and touch. We just have to keep getting him comfortable with what we do.”

Yabusele also made six turnovers Saturday in 28 minutes and three Friday night in 25 minutes. Traveling calls seem to be the main culprit. The Celtics are restricting his minutes, “so we’re going to bring him along slowly,” Morrison said. “But he’s done well in the minutes he’s had.”

Morrison rested regulars Abdel Nader, Jalen Jones and Georges-Hunt Saturday night. The loss of Georges-Hunt – described by Morrison as the team’s Swiss army knife for his versatility – means more minutes for Celtics rookie Demetrius Jackson. Nader can also handle the ball, but Coron Williams, Josh Hagins and Cameron Ayers are also likely to see more action.

The Red Claws remained in the Midwest after the end of their regular season Saturday, driving from Chicago to Fort Wayne Monday morning. Center Jordan Mickey, another Celtic, provides a formidable pairing with Yabusele down low, with Nader and Jalen Jones on the wings.

Maine went 3-1 against Fort Wayne this season, losing at the Expo in November, winning in overtime in Indiana in December and winning twice in January – once at home and once at the D-League Showcase in Toronto.

The Mad Ants also lost an important cog to the NBA when Philadelphia signed forward Alex Poythress on Sunday. Still, Fort Wayne has four NBA veterans – Tyler Hansbrough, Georges Niang, Marquis Teague and Travis Leslie – as well as former Celtics draft pick Ben Bentil, the 51st overall selection last June.

“They’re quite a bit different from what we’ve seen,” Morrison said after reviewing recent film of Fort Wayne. “They’re playing well.”

In the lone loss to Fort Wayne, the Mad Ants ran wild against the Claws, who lost Nader in the second quarter with a shoulder injury.

“Transition defense and defensive rebounding are always our first two concerns,” Morrison said. “If we do a good job with that, then we have a chance to get our defense set. At the end of the day, we’re going to have to rebound and knock a few shots down.”

The Claws lead the D-League in 3-point attempts (by more than 100) but were next-to-last in field-goal attempts. So if they don’t hit from deep, keeping pace is problematic.

In 2015, fourth-seeded Fort Wayne swept Maine on the way to the D-League finals, winning by a point in overtime in Indiana and by 10 at the Expo. Last spring, third-seeded Canton won by a point in Ohio and by six at Cross Insurance Arena, the first time the Claws had played there because of the Home Show always hosted at the Expo in early April.

“I’d rather be at the Expo, for sure,” said Morrison, who has expressed frustration about the higher seed having to travel twice under the current format, where the lower seed always opens at home. Having five days between games should negate any road weariness.

“I just hope we play hard and share the ball and compete the whole game,” Morrison said. “I’m sure they’re going to do the same.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

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