Maine Red Claws (24-17) vs. Albuquerque Thunderbirds (18-25)
7:30 PM Wednesday, March 17, at the Portland Expo
7:30 PM Friday, March 19, at the Portland Expo
The Maine Red Claws, after another sub-par effort in Fort Wayne Tuesday night, have another mini-series, this time against the Albuquerque Thunderbirds.
Both teams played last night, and both lost, with the T-birds falling to the Armor last night in a close 108-104 game at the MassMutual Center. That didn’t stop former Red Claw Trey Gilder from knocking in 25 points and nine rebounds – almost a double-double – in the unsuccessful T-birds effort. Interestingly, though Gilder apparently left Maine in search of more minutes, he’s only been averaging 31.4 minutes per game in New Mexico after averaging 30.5 in Maine – hardly a bonanza of increased playing time. At any rate, after scoring 25 points last night, 20 points Saturday, and 17 on Friday, Gilder has increased his overall contributions to the box score, and will be a threat against his old team.
Also stepping up last night was Shane Edwards, knocking in 22, well more than his usual 11.8PPG. Keith McLeod was a big contributor as well, adding another 20 points to the T-birds’ totals. After playing back-to-back games, it wouldn’t be surprising to see one – or all three – of these players not quite up to snuff tomorrow, just as it wouldn’t be surprising to see Paul Davis a little winded after knocking down 20 points in the Claws’ unsuccessful effort. Had another of the Claws’ starters besides Morris Almond and Russell Robinson reached 20 Davis’s efforts might not have been in vain, but it was an impressive performance nonetheless. The real problem Tuesday was not so much the starters but the bench, who contributed just 11 points combined.
Wednesday, the Claws’ bench will have to step it up if they want to regain some momentum against the T-Birds. Maine has again fallen into third place in the East, but with the Sioux Falls also playing a packed schedule this week, they have a chance to step it up and recover ground. Maine is well-matched against the mediocre Albuquerque, especially after playing three games in five days, but they can’t afford to give the T-Birds a chance, as the Armor did on Tuesday. Instead, they have to come out swinging and not look back, playing with an intensity that’s been lacking since Friday.