Maine Celtics Coach Jarell Christian watches the team practice during training camp in October. The team is off to a 2-0 start and will play its first home game at the Expo on Friday since March 8, 2020.  Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

During training camp, Maine Celtics Coach Jarell Christian shared a simple formula for success with his players that involved:

Ball movement. Player movement. Sharing the ball. Playing as the best defensive team in the NBA G League.

Last weekend, the Celtics displayed all those traits in winning two road games against the College Park Skyhawks, allowing only 100.5 points per game and getting assists on half of their baskets. Now they come home to the Portland Expo, playing the Delaware Blue Coats at 7 p.m. Friday in the first pro basketball game there in 614 days.

On March 8, 2020, the Maine Red Claws, as the team was known then, lost 120-112 to the Windy City Bulls.

Days later, the coronavirus pandemic shut down the season. The Red Claws did not participate in the modified 2021 G League season.

So the Celtics know it’s important to make a good impression for fans who have been starving for games for nearly 18 months.

“I’m excited to see what it’s going to be like,” Christian said at a recent practice. “This court is a great environment. We know the fans are passionate here.”

“I’m looking forward to having that home crowd,” said 6-foot-5 forward Theo Pinson, who is second in scoring (17.5 points) and assists (6.5).

“I played here a couple of years ago, so I know the support they get. I’m looking forward to seeing these stands full.”

The Celtics should be good. In addition to the two two-way players from Boston – forward Sam Hauser, who leads the team with 22 points per game, and versatile guard Brodric Thomas, who has a shoulder injury and has yet to play – the Maine Celtics have five players with NBA experience.

They know, said Pinson, what it takes to win at any level. That includes unselfish play on the offensive end and relentless defense on the defensive end.

The scoring will take care of itself, but for a team to be successful – and for a player to get noticed at this level – he has to do the other things.

“It brings value to you as a player, and to your team, if you can do a lot of things,” said Pinson.

And these Celtics have plenty of versatile players. Take point guard Ryan Arcidiacono, who has 207 games of NBA experience. He is averaging 14.5 points, but also leads the team in rebounding (8.5), assists (9.5) and steals (1.5).

Then there’s 7-foot-2 center Luke Kornet, who has 133 NBA games under his belt. He is averaging 16.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists.

“We showed in the first two games what we can do,” said Arcidiacono. “There was a lot of defensive communication, on offense we took advantage of the mismatches. It’s all part of our game, who can we utilize best.”

Arcidiacono said he’s playing much more comfortably because he’s back at point guard. The last couple of years, he played off the ball. Now, he said, “I’m able to remind everyone that I am a point guard.”

And, said Pinson, this team can only get better. Through training camp, the players were simply trying to get to know each other, not just personally, but on the court – where they like to get the ball, how they set up, how they pass.

“You have to establish trust with each other,” said Pinson.

And that’s coming.

“We’re still learning, that’s the scary part,” he said. “We were out there (last weekend) figuring it out as we go. Once we figure it out, we can be really scary.”

How scary?

“We can be special,” said Pinson.

NOTES: Celtics officials said the game should be close to a sellout, but tickets are still available. …

Hauser and Thomas have been with the Boston Celtics all week but are expected back for the game. They could be joined by Bruno Fernando, who is expected to be sent to Maine for the weekend. He is a 6-foot-9 center from Maryland and was the first Angolan player ever selected in the NBA draft when Philadelphia took him with the 34th pick in 2019.


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