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 Maine Celtics

Maine Celtics Advance to Eastern Conference Finals

April 4, 2024 - NBA G League (G League)
Maine Celtics News Release

PORTLAND, ME - On the back of a 17-0 run from the late-third into the early-fourth and a strong fourth quarter from Neemias Queta, the Maine Celtics earned a 119-112 win over the Delaware Blue Coats to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in franchise history. It is Maine's first playoff win since 2017.

JD Davison led Maine with 21 points, five rebounds and 11 assists. DJ Steward tallied 18 points and six assists, Neemias Queta logged 18 points and 16 rebounds and Jordan Walsh added 18 and nine boards. Drew Peterson turned in 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Jeff Dowtin Jr. led Delaware with 41 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, breaking the record for points scored by an individual opponent in a Maine Celtics playoff game. Jarron Cumberland posted 15 points and five assists.

Davison found Peterson with a kick-out pass, and Peterson knocked down a wide-open triple to get the night off and running. Council hit an elbow pull-up to get Delaware on the board, but it was all the Blue Coats could muster out of the gates as the Celtics raced out to an early 9-2 lead. Peterson canned another triple and threw it down after a hard drive down the lane to push Maine's lead into double digits, but it wasn't long until Dowtin and Council ignited the Blue Coats offense. A three from Dowtin capped off an 8-0 run that pulled the Blue Coats within three, 20-17, and then Chris Clarke tied it at 22 with a three of his own. A couple of strong finishes from Kylor Kelley in the final minutes helped the Celtics build the lead back out to seven, 35-28, after one.

Dowtin sank a pair of mid-range jumpers to bring the Blue Coats within two, though Tony Snell countered with a three to make it a two-possession game right after. With Dowtin and Council doing the heavy-lifting offensively, Delaware steadily chipped away at Maine's lead until a 1-for-2 from Council put them ahead 56-54. The Blue Coats went up by six behind a strong close to the quarter by Council and Dowtin, and despite a three from both Walsh and Joe Wieskamp, Cumberland finished off a fastbreak inside the 30-second mark to hand Delaware a 64-62 lead at the half. Dowtin and Council combined for 43 points in the first half, with Dowtin scoring 25 himself.

Still a close game in the early portion of the third, the Blue Coats had extended their lead to four, 73-69 just under four minutes in. A 5-0 run from Delaware pushed the lead to 78-69, and after some more back-and-forth, the Blue Coats lead was up to 86-75 with just over five minutes remaining in the third. Following a Maine timeout, Steward canned a triple to trim the deficit to six, 86-80, spurring a 12-0 run to end the third that hurled the Celtics in front, 92-89.

Maine's run ballooned to 17-0 in the opening minutes of the fourth, totally flipping the game in their favor and igniting the home crowd at the Expo. Dowtin broke the Celtics playoff individual opponent scoring record when he hit 35 points, but Queta scored two of his eight fourth-quarter points to make it a 10-point game soon after. After trailing 86-75 in the middle of the third, Maine led 104-94 in the middle of the fourth, a 29-8 overall run to put the Celtics in the driver's seat. The two sides traded empty possessions for a short stretch in crunch time before the Blue Coats cut it to six, but Queta and Peterson came through in the clutch to keep Maine ahead for good. The Celtics won the free throw battle in the closing seconds to claim the third playoff victory in franchise history.

Maine will face the winner of Osceola-Long Island in the Eastern Conference Finals - if the Magic win, the Celtics travel to central Florida. If the Nets win, the Celtics will host another playoff game on Sunday.

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