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For the Boston Celtics, the postseason won't start for another five games.

For their D-League affiliate Maine Red Claws, however, the starting gun is about to sound.

Over the weekend the Red Claws clinched the final spot in the NBA Developmental League's postseason. This will be the franchise's first trip to the postseason, in their fourth year of existence.

The first round will begin in Portland, ME on Thursday night at 7pm EST.  Tickets went on sale Monday morning at www.MaineRedClaws.com.

The Red Claws (26-24) drew the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (35-15) in the first round. The Vipers will host Game 2 and 3 of the series assuming home court advantage as the higher seed. Rio Grande Valley is the D-League affiliate of the Houston Rockets. They won the D-League championship in 2010.

Fans may be familiar with a few of the Vipers' players. Royce White, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft plays for them. After being drafted by the Rockets, White has battled mental issues and the franchise over the start of his NBA career. In 16 games with the Vipers, he has 11.4 points and 5.7 rebounds.

The player to keep an eye on is Andrew Goudelock. The former College of Charleston star was a second-round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2011 and played in 40 games for the team last season. Goudelock is an incredibly talented long-range shooter and is averaging 21.1 points per game this season. He is the league's No. 5 ranked prospect.

The Red Claws have gone through a lot of player turnover throughout the season, with numerous of their players being traded or signed into the NBA. The man Celtics fans want to see, Fab Melo, has remained with the team for pretty much the whole season.

Melo has had is ups and downs with Maine, and has made some solid strides this season. In 33 games with the Red Claws, Melo is averaging 9.8 points and six rebounds per game. He is also among the league leaders with 3.1 blocks per game.

Starring for the Red Claws of late has been Chris Wright and Jermaine Taylor. Wright is a possible league MVP, averaging 18.3 points and 9.2 rebounds over 39 games. The high-flyer is the league's No. 7 ranked prospect.

Taylor was a late addition to the Red Claws, and has played only eight games with the team. He certainly has made a great first impression, averaging 24.4 points over that short stint. He broke the 30-point plateau four times so far, and tallied 49 on March 23. Taylor is currently spotted at the No. 2 slot in the prospect rankings.

Maine had a chance to win two straight games at the Erie Bayhawks in order to assure themselves the No. 8 seed. Unfortunately, they were only able to take one of the games, leaving their fate in the hands of the Sioux Falls Skyforce. With the Energy's win over the Skyforce, the Red Claws backed into a playoff spot.

If you are in the area or thinking about taking a trip up to Portland, I highly recommend it. The Red Claws put together a great atmosphere at the Portland Exposition Building and there are a bunch of great spots to hangout before and after the game. Tickets can be bought for as cheap as $6 for an end zone seat.

If you'd rather follow online, the D-League has a great deal with YouTube and you can watch all games live online. The Portland Press Herald also covers the Red Claws, and you can follow Kevin Thomas for news on the team.

I'll also be tweeting live from the game @3rdStringWalsh.

Why wait through another two weeks of games waiting for playoff action. You can get your first taste of postseason hoops this Thursday in Maine.

Walsh 4/08/2013 03:11:00 PM Edit
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