Saturday, May 18, 2013
Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.
Follow his thoughts on the Boston Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs on Clearing the Bases
Follow his thoughts on the Boston Celtics and Maine Red Claws on Holding Court
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During the excitement of March Madness, we witness the emotion of college basketball, as players put their heart into the game.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the NBA D-League. Players come and go. You wonder how loyal they can be, how much emotion they can put into the game. They are professional mercenaries.
But they also care.
Listen to guard Curtis Jerrells, recently signed by the Maine Red Claws, and a key player in their 109-102 win over the Erie BayHawks (see today’s story).
With its 90-88 win over the Erie BayHawks Friday night, the Maine Red Claws (20-18) are a game out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the NBA D-League standings.
Erie (20-16) currently holds that eighth spot, which makes Sunday's 1 p.m. game between the two teams a little more interesting.
In Friday's win, Maine showed some of its new look with recently-acquired guard Mark Tyndale coming off the bench to play solid defense. Newly-activated guard Jeremiah Rivers started and also played fine defense.
Another guard that Maine just traded for, Gabe Pruitt, did not play Friday. He just arrived and Red Coach coach Mike Taylor said he wanted to give him time to adapt to Maine's system. Expect him to play Sunday.
The Boston Celtics have bolstered their front line recently with 10-day contracts handed out to 6-foot-9 D.J. White and 6-10 Shavlik Randolph.
That has allowed Boston to send 7-foot center Fab Melo back to the Red Claws, in time for their 7 p.m. game at the Expo tonight. Maine is also playing a Sunday home game at 1 p.m.
The Red Claws are trying to end a five-game losing streak and get back into playoff contention. See today's story.
At one time, the Maine Red Claws had the top point guard in the NBA D-League.
And, it seems, the Boston Celtics could use a point guard.
But it’s unsure if the Red Claws, or any other D-League team, will help the Celtics replace Rajon Rondo, out for the year with a torn ACL.
First of all, the Red Claws no longer have point guard Shelvin Mack - for now. He just re-signed with the Philadelphia 76ers for a second 10-day contract. It is not sure how much Mack figures in the 76ers’ plans. He’s played three games so far, and a total of only five minutes.
Funny what a couple of NBA players can do for your team.
The Springfield Armor sported one of the worst records in the NBA D-League. But since adding forward Toko Shengelia and guard Tyshawn Taylor from the Brooklyn Nets, the Armor have knocked off two of the best teams in the league - the Maine Red Claws (123-115 on Thursday) and the Santa Cruz Warriors (111-100 on Saturday night).
Shengelia scored 39 points against Maine on Thursday, and 24 against Santa Cruz. Taylor scored 21 Thursday and 26 Saturday night.
Springfield (8-15) plays the Red Claws at 3 p.m. today at the Portland Expo.