Boston Celtics rookies looking ready for G League Playoffs

Jordan Walsh in action for the Boston Celtics
Jordan Walsh in action for the Boston Celtics / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The 2023-24 Boston Celtics' rookies have flown under the radar this season, thanks to one of the deepest rosters in franchise history. However, first-year players Jordan Walsh and Drew Peterson have lit up the G League in recent weeks. 

The Maine Celtics, Boston’s G League affiliate, clinched the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs on March 31 when they finished the regular season with a 110-109 victory over the Texas Legends. Walsh cooked Dallas’ G League squad for a career-high 27 points. The former Arkansas Razorback also pulled down 10 rebounds, led the team in plus-minus, and hit the game-winning free throw.

During his first year in Boston, Walsh has become a fan favorite among Celtics Nation. The 20-year-old wears his heart on his sleeve, and he has shown flashes of incredible defensive potential when given the opportunity. Standing 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Walsh has all of the physical gifts and intangibles to become a premier defender in the NBA.

A few days before his explosive regular season finale, Walsh poured in a cool 22 points against the College Park Skyhawks in Atlanta. After that game, Walsh spoke to Hardwood Houdini about using his increased opportunities in the G League to hone the skills that will make him a reliable defensive-minded role player for Boston.

"Where I want to be at with Boston, I’m not gonna be “the guy.” I want to be more of a 3-and-D player, which is kind of what I want to be here … In the present moment, it’s all about what is gonna help Boston and what is gonna help Maine right now. That’s the most important thing to me."

Jordan Walsh

For someone who was still a teenager a month ago, Walsh has displayed incredible maturity. Embracing his role as a 3-and-D specialist will not only serve Walsh well in the upcoming G League Playoffs, but it could also help him see extended minutes down the stretch of the regular season for a Boston team that has already clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Walsh told Hardwood Houdini he is “super excited” for his first taste of the NBA Playoffs with Boston.

"Oh my goodness, I’m super excited. I’ve heard it’s a whole other level, obviously I believe it. Haven’t been to any playoff games in my life, so these will be fun. I’m excited. We have a really good team, so we’ll see what happens."

Jordan Walsh

Drew Peterson has emerged as a versatile stud for the Maine Celtics

Unlike Walsh, Peterson is playing on a two-way contract. The 24-year-old forward started in 34 games during the G League regular season. He averaged an impressive 16.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 5.7 assists on 36.7% shooting from deep.

Peterson has developed into a do-it-all contributor with a versatile skill set. His above-average ability to shoot, pass, and rebound has made him invaluable to what Maine has accomplished this season. In the recent absence of an injured JD Davison, Peterson has stepped up as a true point forward for Maine.

In his last two games of the season, Peterson posted back-to-back masterclass performances. On March 28, Peterson dropped 20 points, 15 rebounds, and 13 assists against College Park. He then followed up his triple-double with another Nikola Jokic impersonation, posting 17 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists.

After his incredible 20-15-13 outing, Peterson talked to Hardwood Houdini about stepping in as a primary playmaker without Davison there to run Maine’s offense.

"It’s hard when you’ve got our two point guards out. They’ve been such a huge piece to our team, both DJ and JD. I’m trying to make up for them as much as I can. It’s obviously a big task … I thought we battled really well tonight."

Drew Peterson

Like Walsh and Peterson, two-way big man Neemias Queta has provided Maine with a huge boost as of late. Queta has played in 26 games for Boston this season, and his per-minute production has been stellar. Per 36 minutes, the Portuguese seven-footer has averaged 14.5 points and 13.0 boards with Beantown. With Maine, he has averaged 14.4 points in just 22.3 minutes per contest.

The Maine Celtics are on fire heading into the G League Playoffs

The G League Celtics have been red-hot for over a month now, winning 10 of their last 12 games dating back to Feb. 25. In the playoffs, Maine will begin its title quest against the reigning G League champion Delaware Blue Coats.

Maine head coach Blaine Mueller recently spoke to Hardwood Houdini about the growth of his players in the G League and how the team’s chemistry has led to such a successful season.

"Collectively as a group, there’s been a tremendous amount of development across the board … they certainly get more opportunities out here because there aren’t any star players, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown aren’t there to play alongside … I think you’d have a hard time finding a closer and more fun locker room than we’ve got in this group."

Maine Celtics head coach Blaine Mueller

The chemistry is clearly at an all-time high in Maine. Nobody has embodied that chemistry more than Walsh, who told Hardwood Houdini he views all of his teammates from both Boston and Maine as “my brothers and my family.”

With Boston’s rising stars locked in and ready to chase G League glory, the future looks bright for the entire Celtics organization.