Portland, Maine – The Maine Celtics, presented by Unum, turned a show shooting start into a rout, cruising to a 117-89 win over the Wisconsin Herd Sunday night at the Portland Expo.
Maine (1-0) started the regular season portion of the schedule with a bang. The Celtics were led by Aaron Nesmith, on assignment from the Boston Celtics. Making his NBA G League debut, Nesmith led the Celtics with 21 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. Juwan Morgan, back from a 10-day contract with the Toronto Raptors, added 17 points and 14 rebounds. Bruno Fernando, also on assignment from Boston, contributed 15 points, 9 boards and 7 assists, and Two-Way Player Sam Hauser scored 12 points in his return to the Expo. Deonte Burton led the bench scoring with 12 points in his Maine debut, and Jaysean Paige scored 11 points in his return from a 10-day contract with Detroit.
Wisconsin (1-1) was led by Terry Lerrier, who finished with 42 points on 12-22 shooting.
Nesmith got off to a hot start with his Maine debut – dropping in a pull-up jumper and following that up with a three – and the Celtics were off and running with a 7-2 early lead. The Herd answered by going on an 11-0 run. Terry Larrier dropped in a three to put Wisconsin up 13-7. Maine would answer with a 9-0 run mostly at the free throw line. Morgan dropped in a three to keep it close. Paige fed Morgan for a slam late in the period, but Wisconsin led 24-23 after 1 quarter. Larrier scored 16 of Wisconsin’s 24 points in the 1st.
In the 2nd, Larrier picked up where he left off, dropping in a pull-up jumper. Maine took command of the period, with John Bohannon feeding Paige for a pair of lay-ups. Nesmith followed that up with a driving bucket of his own, and Hauser dropped in a deep three to put the Celtics up 5. Nesmith and Fernando made back-to-back buckets to take the lead late in the 2nd, and Maine led 47-44 at the half. Nesmith paced Maine with 16 points in the first half, while Larrier finished with 23 in the opening half. The Celtics shot 47% (20-43) in the first half, but only 4-20 from three-point range. Wisconsin shot just 39% (16-41) from the floor, and not much better from beyond the arc (6-21).
Wisconsin opened the 3rd quarter with three consecutive three’s to take the lead. Asante Gist stopped the quick run with a triple of his own. Larrier continued to pour it on, but Gist and the Celtics kept it close. Hauser and Morgan buried three-balls to re-gain the lead. The Celtics opened it up – Deonte Burton’s steal and three-point play, followed by a Morgan three and a Paige corner three, and in the blink of an eye the Celtics led by 12. Larrier continued to fill it up for the Herd, but Maine led 76-68 after 3.
In the 4th, Maine continued to put the pressure on offensively, with Morgan leading the charge. Fernando rocked the rim with a massive dunk, and the Celtics opened up a large lead, emptying the bench and cruising to victory. Maine finished the game shooting 49% (42-85) from the field, 34% (14-41) from three-point range, and 12-15 from the free throw line. Wisconsin shot 35% (30-86) from the floor, 24% (11-45) from downtown, and 8-11 from the charity stripe.
The Celtics return to action Thursday night at the Portland Expo, when Maine hosts Delaware.