Celtics

Tacko Fall once again steals the show, this time in Maine

Fall recorded 16 points and 13 rebounds in front of a sellout crowd in Portland.

Tacko Fall in his Maine Red Claws debut. Matthew Lee/Globe Staff

PORTLAND, Maine — Sixteen points on 7-for-10 shooting, 13 rebounds, and 6 blocks weren’t enough for Tacko Fall in his Maine Red Claws home debut. 

“I’d give myself a 6 out of 10,” Fall said Friday night at the Portland Expo. “I feel like I probably could have had 10 blocks today. I missed a couple here and there. You’re not going to be perfect every night.” 

Despite falling short of his own satisfaction, Fall’s defensive presence against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants garnered several cheers from the sellout crowd of over 2,400 fans. During a one-minute stretch in the first quarter, he forcefully rejected Naz Mitrou-Long before volleyball-swatting Walt Lemon Jr.’s layup attempt on Fort Wayne’s next possession. Both plays were, of course, met with fervent cheers. 

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After Maine’s 103-100 victory, Red Claws coach Darren Erman praised the 7-foot-6 center’s pick-and-roll coverage and rim protection, noting the team struggled when Fall checked out. 

“He was really good and bailed us out defensively a lot,” Erman said. “That’s as good as anyone you’ll find in the NBA.” 

Fall logged 27 minutes off the bench Friday, much to the crowd’s delight. There were no demanding “We want Tacko!” chants, but the buzz surrounding Fall certainly hasn’t fizzled. When he first checked into the game, parents could be heard telling their kids, “Here comes Tacko.” When Romeo Langford fed Fall in the post, a fan shouted, “Feed the beast!” When he dunked in the second quarter, Fall fueled the roaring applause by raising the roof. 

As he was in Las Vegas and TD Garden, Fall was far and away the main attraction. His G-League teammates have picked up on the heightened attention, with Red Claws guard Trey Davis joking Portland is now called “Tacko, Maine.” But Fall seems to be embracing the craze, even if it means he has to lay a bit low. 

“I can’t go nowhere in Maine,” he said. “People are just crazy.” 

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Fall has enlisted fellow two-way player Tremont Waters, who also happens to be his roommate, to help grab food for him at a restaurant, or sometimes he’ll just order UberEats. Whenever he’s out in public, he’ll more often than not stop to sign autographs or pose for pictures. 

Friday was no different, as the excitement brewed well before tip-off. 

“I got here at 4:30 [p.m.] and it was already loud,” Fall said. “The game is not until 7, so it just shows how much they love the Red Claws out here. Their support is much appreciated.” 

Amid the mania — and his first New England winter — Fall is focused on making the most of his time with the Red Claws so that he can be prepared to contribute when he gets opportunities with the Celtics. Erman said the priorities are to improve his stamina and ball-handling up top. 

Even after just two games, Fall is already starting to notice benefits from Erman’s style. 

“We play a lot faster, which is definitely going to help me first off, get in good shape and second, whenever I come back to the NBA, everything I’m sure is going to be slowed down,” he said. “The more I play, the better it’s going to be. I can definitely tell the difference when I play in games.”

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