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Game Preview - NBA G League Finals Game 3 - April 15, 2024

Chase Whitney /April 15, 2024

Game details:                              

Matchup:Maine Celtics vs. Oklahoma City Blue   

Location: Portland Expo; Portland, Maine  

Tipoff:9:00 PM EST       

Television: ESPNU 

This one’s for all the marbles. 

With each team claiming a homecourt victory in the first two games of the NBA G League Finals, the series returns to the Portland Expo for a winner-take-all Game 3 in front of a sold-out crowd. These are the moments that competitors live for. 

It’s safe to assume both sides will be coming in confident as well, with numerous players receiving minutes with their respective NBA clubs over the weekend. Maine sent JD Davison and Drew Peterson down to Boston while Jordan Walsh and Neemias Queta were both recalled in unison, and there were times during Boston’s last two regular season games that Joe Mazzulla’s lineup was 80% comprised of Maine Celtics alumnus. Much like fans at the Expo, fans at TD Garden provide a confidence boost like no other fanbase can. Davison, Peterson, Queta and Walsh will look to carry that confidence with them into Monday night’s decisive Game 3. 

Breaking down the matchup: 

Points in the paint has been an indicator of success for a big, physical Maine team all season. The Celtics took Game 1 while outscoring the Oklahoma City Blue 58-40 in the paint but lost the battle 42-32 in the Game 2 loss. When Queta and Kylor Kelley get going with Davison, Peterson and DJ Steward hitting them on the roll, it’s difficult to keep the Celtics out of the paint. Creating those same opportunities – and finishing them efficiently – could help Maine get back on track quickly. 

The Blue having Lindy Waters III on assignment provided a huge boost to their offense; Waters should be with the team again for Game 3, though he’ll be on his second game of a back-to-back after playing for the Thunder in OKC on Sunday afternoon. In Game 2, Waters shot 10-13 from the field and 5-7 from deep, the only Blue to eclipse 13 points and five made field goals. Reducing the space he creates after setting screens and popping out beyond the arc, fighting through off-ball screens set for him, and just making him work harder for his buckets in general to limit his volume and/or efficiency is paramount for the Celtics. 

As the case has been all year long, defense is going to be what wins the game, and ultimately the championship for Maine. The Celtics held the Blue to three 25-point quarters (25 points or less in each quarter is a statistical point of emphasis for Maine), including a mere 14 points in the first quarter of Game 1. Maine’s defense earned two 25-point quarters in Game 2, but also gave up 30 in second quarter. If the Celtics can string together 48 minutes of consistent, high-energy, attentive defense, a duplicate performance from Game 1 might be in order. Defense wins championships, after all. 

It's all come down to one game. The Celtics have worked tirelessly since October to reach this point – now, they’re here, only 48 minutes away from the first championship in Maine franchise history. For those in attendance at Game 3; make sure we let our Celtics know just how much support they’ve got as they vie for a G League title.