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From Portland to the Parquet: Maine Celtics players look to raise banner 18

The Boston Celtics playoff roster is filled with plenty of players who spent time in Portland on the Maine Celtics this season.

PORTLAND, Maine — It's time once again for the basketball world to focus on the parquet court in Boston as the Celtics and Golden State Warriors are set to tip off in Game 4 of the NBA Finals at the TD Garden Friday night.

There's no doubt the Celtics have had one of the best turnarounds in NBA history this season. After posting a 20-21 record to start the year, Boston rallied to clinch the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The second-half surge was primarily due to Boston's star players elevating their game and getting in a rhythm with each other and first-year head coach Ime Udoka. But there was also some help from people 105 miles north in Portland. 

The Maine Celtics are the G-League affiliate of Boston, essentially the minor league feeder club for the NBA team. Plenty of players have taken the floor at both the Portland Expo and the TD Garden this season.

Sam Hauser, Luke Kornet, Juwan Morgan, Aaron Nesmith, and Nik Stauskas are all on Boston's playoff roster, and all of them played in Maine this year.

Before the NBA postseason, the Maine Celtics had a solid season. The G-League splits the regular season into two halves, the first culminating with the G-League showcase in December. Maine earned the no. 2 seed in the tournament, similar to its parent club earning the no. 2 seed in the NBA's Eastern Conference playoffs.

RELATED: Maine Celtics name Jarell Christian as the team's new coach

Unlike Boston, Maine lost in the first round of that tournament. Then, it was time for first-year coach Jarell Christian to face a true test during the second half of the season.

Despite a constant flow of new players, Maine battled to a 16-16 record in the second half of its schedule and just missed out on the postseason. Christian has used his coaching success to help Boston during the postseason as he has been with the team during the playoffs.

A big help for Christian in the latter part of the year in Maine was the play of Chris Clemons.

While you won't see him in Boston, Clemons put on quite the show at the Expo. He averaged nearly 24 points per game in 2021-22, including three 41-point games in the month of March. He also added a 52-point, 11-rebound performance that month. 

If you see some former Maine Celtics, now current Boston Celtics, on the floor Friday night, it could be a really good thing or a really bad thing if you're rooting for the green and white.

RELATED: Celtics beat Warriors 116-100, take 2-1 lead in NBA Finals

Sam Hauser, Nik Stauskas, and Luke Kornet scored their first NBA Finals points during Boston's Game 2 loss against the Warriors. But Hauser, Stauskas, and Juwan Morgan also closed out Boston's Game 3 win, taking the court for the final two minutes.

One player who plays a lot more than two minutes a game for Boston spent time in Portland, too. Center Robert Williams played five games at the Expo during the 2018-19 season. Before making the NBA's All-Defensive First Team, Williams averaged 15 points and nearly 10 rebounds in Maine. 

Even during the NBA finals, there is always at least one Maine connection. 

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