Maine vs. Iowa Preview

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Maine Red Claws (8-3) vs. Iowa Energy (11-1)
1:00PM Thursday December 31, Portland Expo, Portland, Maine

Later today your Maine Red Claws face off against the Iowa Energy, who are associated with the Chicago Bulls and the Phoenix Suns. Maine will be looking to hand the best team in the league their second loss of the season just three days after handing the worst team in the league their second victory of the season.

Unlike the Red Claws, the Energy are not packed with NBA talent. The Suns have assigned Taylor Griffin to the D-League, but he is not a points leader on the team. Instead, Curtis Stinson of Iowa State, with no NBA experience, is leading the team to the top. Apart from Griffin, the Energy have three players with NBA time, including Earl Barron, who earned a ring with the Miami Heat in 2006. New Englanders will also recognize Rashad Anderson, a UConn product who was part of the 2003-04 championship team.

This is an important game for Austin Ainge and the Maine Red Claws. It’s always been an important game, but it became doubly so after the Sunday loss to Bakersfield. A home win over Iowa would re-establish Maine as one of the top teams in the league and give their season momentum again. Another loss – especially if it’s a thumping – could lead to roster changes.

This game will be a challenge, to be sure. Thanks to the Celtics’ injuries, the Claws are without the C's assignees, though Bobcat Alexis Ajinca remains. The rest of the team will have to step it up in a way they didn’t on Sunday. These two teams match up well, and Maine can’t let the Energy establish an early lead. They have to return to their usual aggressive defense and prevent the Energy from getting into an offensive rhythm.

NEXT THREE: Friday, January 1, vs. Eerie BayHawks, 5PM, Portland Expo; Monday, January 4, vs. LA D-Fenders, Qwest Arena, Boise, ID 3:45PM; Tuesday, January 5, @ Sioux Falls SkyForce, Qwest Arena, Boise ID, 1PM.

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