PORTLAND –The Maine Red Claws, who won twice last weekend at the Portland Expo to improve to 28-17, lead second place Delaware (24-21) by 4 games. Maine needs either two wins, two Delaware losses or one of each to clinch the Atlantic division.

Each of the four division winners in the 22-team league, and two wild-card teams from each conference with the next best records, regardless of division, will qualify for the playoffs which begin on April 4  Each playoff round is best of three with the higher seeded team hosting the second and, if needed, third game. In the first round the division winners will play the wildcard teams.

The Red Claws, who are 15-8 at home and 13-9 on the road, have five games remaining in the season to accomplish that task. It all begins tonight at the EXPO with a 7 pm game vs. the likely playoff bound Cantor Charge (28-18). Both the teams have been surging as Maine has won its last four games, while Canton has prevailed in 9 or its last 10 contests. 

Canton (the D-League affiliate of the Cleveland Cavaliers) is led by Eric Moreland (13 points, 12 rebounds, 2.8 assists) and John Holland (22 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3 assists). Moreland is a 6’ 10”, 25 year old, who has played in 11 NBA games for the Sacramento Kings. Holland, a 6’ 5”, 28 year old, who was a Boston University teammate of Deering High School graduate Carlos Strong, was on the Boston Celtics playoff roster last year and made a brief appearance in one game.

The Red Claw’s roster includes three rookies who were selected as NBA D-League All-Stars Abdel Nader, Jalen Jones and Marcus Georges-Hunt. 

Nader was a second round (58th overall) selection by the Boston Celtics in the 2016 NBA draft. He is 7th in the D-League in scoring, averaging 21.6 points per game to go with 6.2 rebounds and 4 assists.

Jones, is 4th in the D-League with 14 double-doubles and averages a team high 9 rebounds per game. He is right behind Nader in averaging 21.5 points.

Georges-Hunt, who recorded Maine’s only triple-double of the season (22 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists on Nov. 18). is averaging 16.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.  Undrafted in the 2016 NBA draft, he signed a 10-day contract with the Miami Heat in February, but did not appear in a game for them.

Following tonight’s game, Maine concludes the home portion of its regular season on Sunday at 1 pm vs. the Reno Bighorns (17-27), before taking to the road next week for its final three games.

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