Want to know exactly how the Maine Celtics are getting it done on the court? Each week, Crushing the Numbers will take a deep dive into the G League stats to see what the numbers say about which areas the team has excelled in and what they’re looking to improve on in practice.
The Maine Celtics had a historic weekend at the Portland Expo. A 49-point victory over the Delaware Blue Coats saw the Celtics break the franchise record for margin of victory and points scored at home in the Portland Expo, tie the franchise record with 26 made three-pointers in a game, and to top it all off, Scottie Lindsey went on a heater of a lifetime to set a G League career-high 32 points.
Maine was able to grind out a win over Capital City on night one of last week’s back-to-back, though they took their first loss of the 2022-23 season the following night. Over a stretch in which the team played five games in seven days, the Celtics saw themselves rocket to the top of the league leaderboards in multiple different stat categories.
Picking up the pace
After starting the season with a slower tempo than the coaching staff anticipated, the Celtics have jumped up to seventh in pace (105.6 possessions per game). Though Maine still ranks in the bottom-three in turnovers per game (21.3), they only eclipsed 20 turnovers once over the last three games and have claimed the top spot in assist percentage (68.2). Ball movement is a key element to Maine’s offense and the players have been executing at a high level as of late.
Through seven games, the Celtics are the best defensive team in the entire G League. A defensive rating of 101.2 tops the league, bolstered by the bruising presences of Mfiondu Kabengele and Luka Šamanić on the interior. Kabengele is fourth in the league in total blocks (17), swatting away seven shots in a narrow win over the Go-Go. The Celtics are fifth in blocks per game as a team (6.9); blocked shots often lead to live-ball defensive rebounds, which, in turn, tend to trigger fastbreaks and allow Maine to run the floor and utilize their athleticism to create easy shots.
Dominating the glass
Maine ranks first in offensive (15.3), defensive (39.9) and total rebounds per game (55.1), with Kabengele ranking sixth among all players in offensive boards per game (4.1) and Šamanić (3.1) in the top-25. It’s not just up to the bigs to control the glass, though; 6-foot-4 wing Denzel Valentine is ninth among all players in defensive rebounds (7.7), one spot behind Kabengele. Šamanić is a top-six rebounder in the league (11.6 per game) with six double-doubles in seven appearances, and Kabengele is 15th with an even 10 boards per contest.
As Maine has begun to play with a faster tempo, the team three-point percentage has risen since last week’s Crushing the Numbers, making the Celtics an even tougher test for opponents when coupled with their elite defense. Taking a league-leading 46 threes per game and hitting them at a 34.2 percent clip (16th-best percentage), Maine’s 11th-ranked offense gives them a chance to turn each game into a shootout when players get hot.
Defensively, the Celtics are limiting opposing offenses in two areas that make it difficult to produce points: at the rim and beyond the arc. Maine’s defense holds opponents to the lowest field goal percentage within five feet of the basket in the league (52.5 percent), while holding opponents to a league-best 27.3 percent from long-range. So far, the Celtics have done a great job of taking away layups, the easiest shot in basketball, and three-pointers, the most valuable shot in basketball. The numbers perfectly align with the team’s 6-1 start.
Scottie Lindsey’s career night
Previously, Lindsey’s career-high in scoring was 26 points, set on Jan. 14, 2020, as a member of the then-Erie Bayhawks (now Birmingham Squadron) – coincidentally, he set it at the Portland Expo. Lindsey topped his previous career-high before the first half even ended against Delaware, entering the locker room with 27 points and finishing with a game-high 32 points on 11-18 shooting. He played just 20 minutes on the night and shot 7-10 from long-range, setting a career-high in three-pointers made in a game with seven.
It wasn’t just Sunday, though; Lindsey canned six threes in the back-to-back with Capital City and has raised his season-long three-point percentage to a team-leading 42.5 percent on 5.7 attempts per game. Last season, Lindsey led the G League in total three-pointers made, and after a bit of a slow start to the season, he’s right back on track to be among the league’s best marksmen this season.