Maine Red Claws (16-9) vs. Erie BayHawks (11-15)
7:30PM Portland Expo, Portland, Maine
After a very successful three-game road trip, the Red Claws return to Portland to face the Erie Bayhawks (Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors)
Since losing to Austin in OT last Friday, the Red Claws have recovered nicely on the road, winning three straight, starting Sunday at Bakersfield. The victory over the Bakersfield Jam was a 106-104 nailbiter. Alexis Ajinca led the way for Maine with a 27-point 10-rebound double-double, continuing the strong play he showed in the Friday loss. Not only did Ajinca lead the way in points for the Claws, but he had the game-winning shot, holding off Bakersfield’s fourth-quarter rally. Unfortunately J.R. Giddens was injured in this game.
The next day, Monday, the Claws jetted off to Utah, where they proceeded to roll over the Flash 107-84. This was Maine’s biggest win in almost a month, since they defeated Bakersfield by the same margin. On Tuesday it was Giddens, returning from his injury against his old team, leading the way with a 22-point 10-rebound double-double. Then on Wednesday the Red Claws defeated the Idaho Stampede 133-115 in another big win. Tony Bobbitt was lighting up the baskets on Wednesday with an impressive 31-point performance; Ajinca also contributed another double-double. Giddens did not play on Wednesday.
Friday night will be the BayHawks’ second appearance in the Expo and fourth game against Maine. So far the Red Claws own the season series, having defeated Erie on all four occasions. The Red Claws this week added Dominique Coleman, a 6’3″ guard who played for the University of Colorado and last year was a major part of the D-League champion Colorado 14ers’ season. Coleman is known as a steals artist, and averaged around 15 points per game last year with the 14ers. How exactly he’ll fit into the lineup is unclear, but he should be with the team Friday.
Erie, despite their middle-of-the-pack record, will not be a pushover. They recently acquired G Mike Gansey, a West Virginia graduate who’s really stepped up his game with the BayHawks. He’s only been with the team for six games, but he’s averaging 19PPG, a huge improvement. In their last game, a 95-94 win over Springfield, Gansey led the way with 25 points. Erie also has G Donell Taylor, who’s been averaging around 18 PPG with the BayHawks this season.
The Red Claws had some good wins on the road. They seem to be re-establishing their rhythm, both offensively and defensively. It’s definitely good that they didn’t let the three-game slide phase them and have recovered, but they’ll need to continue the pace on Friday if they want to begin crawling back towards first place in the East.
NOTES: J.R. Giddens is not expected to play in Friday’s game, but should be available Sunday…the Red Claws held Coleman’s rights, as they selected him in the Expansion Draft.