At least two members of the Boston Celtics organization will get playoff experience as rookie James Young and the recently signed Chris Babb will be on the floor Tuesday night when the Maine Red Claws open the NBA D-League playoffs with a best-of-three series against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (7 p.m., ESPNU).
With Boston stocked at the swingman position, Young has been on assignment since mid-March. The 17th pick in June's draft appeared in 30 games for Boston, but had seen only small chunks of playing time since Boston embarked on a playoff push.
In 17 regular-season games with the Claws, Young averaged 21.5 points and shot 44.2 percent beyond the 3-point arc (ranking him in the top 10 in the D-League for the season). Young added 4.8 rebounds and 2 assists over 32.9 minutes per game.
The Celtics have kept tabs on Young from afar.
"Box scores and short YouTube clips of highlights is what I’ve seen," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "Our front office is watching him at every opportunity. The progress is good. This is an opportunity for him, [Tuesday], to start playing in playoff-type games, too. They play at Fort Wayne [on Tuesday]. I think he’s made good strides. I think he’s made good strides all year, but with his ups and downs and injuries, and with our kinda tweaked roster, his opportunities here have been less."
Stevens has enjoyed the flexibility of being able to send players to Maine, where they integrate seamlessly with Claws first-year coach Scott Morrison running a similar system designed to ease any two-way traffic. Morrison spent much of Boston's training camp working with Stevens and his staff.
"I talked to Scott Morrison for a long time [Sunday]. He’s giving me the updates and he’s asking me what I think, and all those type of things," Stevens said. "Scott’s a great coach and he does a really good job of handling that team. But our systems are similar enough where it makes for a quick, easy thing to adjust to if guys do go up and down."
The Celtics signed Babb to a multiyear deal Monday that's expected to be non-guaranteed for future seasons, then immediately reassigned him to Maine. That rewards Babb a bit for his diligence in spending the past two seasons with the team's D-League affiliate, while also making him a trade asset this summer.
This is the second time Babb has finished the season on Boston's roster after being a late-season call-up when Gerald Wallace got injured last season. If Babb appears in a game before the end of Boston's season, he'll be the franchise-record 23rd player to do so this season.
The 25-year-old Babb averaged 15.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists over 34.7 minutes per game in 45 appearances for Maine this season. He's a 3-and-D guy, landing on the D-League's All-Defensive team last season and ranking among the league leaders in total 3-point attempts this season (he shot 37.5 percent beyond the arc).
The top-seeded Red Claws visit fourth-seeded Fort Wayne on Tuesday, then host the Mad Ants on Saturday and Sunday (if necessary). If you need another reason to tune in, old friend Jordan Crawford now plays for Fort Wayne.
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