After winning a second consecutive Atlantic Division title, the Maine Red Claws have their sights set on winning their first NBA Development League playoff game.

The Claws, seeded second in the Eastern Conference, take on the No. 3 Canton Charge Tuesday night in Ohio. Game 2 in the best-of-three series is scheduled for Thursday night in Portland with Game 3, if necessary, Friday night.

Because the 47th annual Portland Home Show will be in the Expo this weekend, all Red Claws home games in this series will be played at Cross Insurance Arena, a site where the Red Claws have never even practiced.

“To be honest, we weren’t overly pleased with how the process played out,” said Red Claws Coach Scott Morrison, who didn’t learn until Friday afternoon of the decision to play at CIA. “We had requested the series be played later so we could stay at the Expo. I guess that was denied (by the league), but we were never really part of the process.”

Both Canton and Maine are 31-19. The Charge won three of the four regular-season games with Maine, whose lone victory came in November, but the Red Claws earned the higher seed by virtue of their division title.

Dajuan Eubanks, team president, said “every option was explored,” with the D-League, but that “the time we would need it in the first round, the Expo wasn’t available to us. The civic center was, so we’re excited to go over there and play.”


In their seven-year history, the Red Claws are 0-4 in playoff games. As the eighth seed in 2013, they lost two straight to No. 1 Rio Grande Valley by a total of three points. As the No. 1 seed last spring, they were swept by No. 4 Fort Wayne, losing by a point in overtime in Indiana and by 10 at the Expo.

Canton enters the playoffs on a two-game losing streak and Maine has won three in a row, recovering from a season-long four-game losing streak that began in Canton on the day reigning D-League MVP Tim Frazier left the Red Claws for the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans.

The Red Claws are likely to face Canton with a starting five of Corey Walden, Marcus Thornton, Levi Randolph, Omari Johnson and Coty Clarke. The Celtics have assigned sharp-shooter James Young to the Claws, and it’s possible another player (Jordan Mickey?) will join Maine, which lost center Ralph Sampson III to a knee injury in the regular-season finale.

Morrison said playing at CIA won’t be a disadvantage, but it certainly won’t be as advantageous as the cozy Expo.

“It’s more like we’re playing on a neutral court,” he said. “It won’t be as good as playing in a packed Expo, for sure. One of the great things about playing in the Expo is the environment. It’s one of the best in the league.”

A thousand or so fans in an arena that holds 6,700 may not provide the same frenzied feel as at the Expo, which seats a little over 2,700.

“We’re not making any excuses,” Morrison said. “The rims are still 10 feet high. The court still has the same dimensions..”

Conflicts with the Home Show never arose in previous seasons because the Claws either didn’t make the postseason tournament or hosted a playoff game before (2015) or after (2013) the Home Show.

“The Home Show has been around for 47 years,” said Eubanks, the team president. “We’ve known about it since Year One coming into the Expo. But it’s a good headache to have, because it only comes up if we’re in the playoffs.”

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