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Maine Celtics Advance to First Ever NBA G League Finals

April 7, 2024 - NBA G League (G League)
Maine Celtics News Release

PORTLAND, ME - DJ Steward came through with 19 fourth-quarter points and Jordan Walsh added 10 in crunch time, leading the Maine to a 99-77 win over the Long Island Nets and sending the Celtics to the G League Finals for the first time in franchise history.

Steward finished with 27 points on 10-20 shooting to lead Maine. JD Davison added 19 points and 11 assists while Neemias Queta tallied 16 points and a career-high 19 rebounds. Walsh turned in 15 points and seven rebounds and Drew Peterson had 12 points.

Kaiser Gates scored 16 points to lead Long Island. Davion Warred chipped in 15 points to and Jacob Gilyard logged 13 points, seven rebounds and three steals. David Muoka put up 10 points and eight rebounds.

Much to the delight of the Portland Expo crowd, Queta won the opening tip back to Davison, who drilled a right elbow jumper for the game's first bucket. The Celtics held the Nets scoreless for over two-and-a-half minutes to start the night before Kyler Edwards broke the ice - that kicked off a 9-0 run that handed Long Island an 11-6 lead by the first timeout. Following a defensive three-second call, Steward hit the technical free throw, Davison canned a triple and Kylor Kelley laid one in off the glass to tie the game at 14, and it wasn't long before Snell got the lead back for Maine with a spot-up three. Despite six first-quarter turnovers, the Celtics locked down on defense and held the Nets to 38.1% shooting to limit the damage. After one, Maine led 23-19.

The Nets scored five-straight early in the second to retake the lead, but a side-step triple from Steward gave it right back to Maine, 28-26. The score was stuck there for a few trips before Maine scored back-to-back buckets and forced a Long Island timeout, though Maine kept it rolling through the break. A three from Peterson brought the lead to nine, and the Celtics steadily pulled away until the lead got up to 11, their largest of the night to that point. The Nets fired back with a 7-2 run to close the half, bringing them within five at the intermission as Maine led 48-43.

Gates hit a tough baseline fadeaway to make it a three-point game out of the locker room. Then, Gilyard tied it at 50 with a three to beat the shot clock, but Davison nudged Maine back ahead with a free throw line jumper. The Celtics led by four just under halfway through the third before a 1-for-2 from Warren, a transition dunk from Gates and a layup from Patrick Gardner gave the Nets a 58-56 lead. After a 5-0 run from Maine, a triple from Gates was the only bucket in the final three minutes and 33 seconds of the third and the Celtics took a 61-60 lead into the fourth.

All year long, Maine had issues closing out games - but not tonight. An 8-0 solo run from Steward, who finished with 19 points in the frame, gave the Celtics a two-possession lead before Walsh canned a massive three that nearly blew the roof off the Expo. With Maine now up by a dozen, 76-64, thanks to a run that ballooned to 18-4 in the early minutes of the fourth, the Nets needed to make a run. The Celtics kept their foot on the gas pedal, extending the lead to 15 points with less than five minutes to go. A long-two from Queta and a deep three from Peterson put it away in the final minutes, closing out a 22-point victory to clinch the first G League Finals berth in franchise history.

Maine awaits the winner of the Western Conference Finals to determine their Finals schedule. If Oklahoma City wins, the Celtics host Games One and Three. If the Kings win, the Celtics host game two and travel to Stockton for Games One and Three.

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