Sunday, March 2, 2014

Brooklyn Nets 107 at Milwaukee Bucks 98 - March 1, 2014


When I first planned this weekend trip to Chicago, the schedule included the Blackhawks' outdoor game Saturday evening at Soldier Field. But I ended up getting a ticket to one of the Stadium Series games at Yankee Stadium, more than filling my appetite for the sham that is outdoor hockey and forcing me to find another event on Saturday. I decided to head north to Milwaukee as the Bucks were hosting the Brooklyn Nets at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, an arena I hadn't visited since 1991.

A couple of days before I left, I noticed another event in Milwaukee that night, a Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) game at US Cellular Arena, which is next door to the Bradley Center. With a start time of 6 p.m. (90 minutes before the basketball game), I thought I might be able to see both events and headed over to US Cellular Arena just before game time to see what was available. Boy, was I in for a surprise. I expected this to be one of those minor league games with few fans, but I was entirely wrong. Over 5,000 were there, and the lineup for tickets was huge. The cheapest at the box office was $15, which was too much for me especially if I was going to leave early, and there were no freebies being offered, so I decided to continue on my way to the Bradley Center as gates had opened. Before I left, I watched a bit of the game on a monitor in the concourse that was visible from the lobby and can't say that I caught the indoor soccer bug; it seems like glorified pinball. Goals count two points and there seems to be a 3-point line, but I didn't stick around to figure it all out.



Leaving the arena and heading to Bradley Center brought me past the Wisconsin Athletic Walk of Fame and a historical marker denoting the invention of the typewriter. Amazing the things you learn while traveling to watch sports.



Crossing the street, I went to the box office only to find out it was for will call customers. As I left to find the actual ticket window, a gentleman asked if I needed tickets. I told him I required just one, but he wanted to give away both. He debated briefly (it was very cold out and he wanted to get inside) and then handed me a single ticket. A scalper, sensing an opportunity, scurried over and offered him a few dollars for both. The ticket disappeared from my hand as the guy listened to his offer, but in the end, he decided to give me the ticket anyway. Before he could change his mind again, I hustled into the arena, picking up a Junior Bridgeman bobblehead along the way.



I hadn't checked the ticket closely, but Palermo Courtside was printed on it despite the seat being in section 213, row F. I was a bit confused until l I noticed the face value: $180. This was definitely a good seat and probably the best free ticket I'll ever receive. Turns out that the 100 level in the Bradley Center is limited to the seats on the court itself, and the 200 level is really the lower seating bowl. In other words, I would be six rows from the court. Glad I skipped that soccer game.



I did a quick tour of the venue, grabbing my free soda (I lied and said I drove to the game) and a sandwich and taking some pictures, which you see here. The Bradley Center is quite nice for an older venue, and with fans staying away in droves, very spacious. The upper deck was perhaps 20% full, and even the lower bowl had plenty of empty seats. Announced attendance was just over 14,000 but I'd be surprised if even 10,000 had made it inside, many scared off by the Bucks league-worst 11-46 record and a snowstorm that was making driving miserable that day.



As the game got underway, I noticed that one of the guys in front of me was heavily intoxicated (I found out later that he had spilled a beer all over the place) and barely able to watch the game. He tried to harass the referees but his calls of "Bullthittt" were not effective. His friends, also well gone, decided to leave with 5 minutes to go in the first quarter, pleasing those around them, but causing me to wonder why they bothered in the first place. You're sitting five rows from an NBA floor, why get hammered? Sure, it's Bucks versus Nets, but it wasn't that bad of an evening.



The Game



Milwaukee managed to keep it close through the first half, down 55-53 at the break. The third quarter saw Brooklyn pull away, leading 75-64 before the Bucks went on a little 8-2 run to end the frame and give hope to the assembled. But as is the case this season in Milwaukee, the hope was all for naught as the Bucks could not get closer than four points, going on to lose 107-98.



Marcus Thornton led all scorers with 25, while nobody on Milwaukee did anything worth mentioning. Interestingly, the Bucks outshot Brooklyn in all three facets (46% to 45% from the floor, 42-40 from 3-point land, and 81-74 from the line) but still lost handily, mainly due to 17 turnovers and allowing the Nets 15 offensive rebounds.



Normally I would try to be positive about the future of a team, but Milwaukee's defense seemed atrocious. If Brooklyn could shoot the ball with any consistency, this would have been much worse. Here's hoping the Bucks can win the draft lottery and get a superstar with their pick, otherwise the team might be on the move in the next few years. The fans at the indoor soccer game were mostly families with young kids; it is telling that they would rather see that than the NBA on a Saturday night.



The Jazz are in town on Monday and Kareem Abdul Jabbar will be on hand to screen a new Wisconsin tourism commercial based on the movie Airplane!. 

Notes

The Soldier Field hockey game was a joke, played in frigid temperatures with 3 inches of snow falling over the duration of the event. The media still romanticizes the entire experience because they don't have to pay for it. Charging $250 for a game in which players cannot complete passes more than 50 feet is shameful, but as fans continue to believe what they are told, look for more outdoor games every year. If the NHL knows what's good for it, they'll return to the Winter Classic only, and perhaps one game in Canada every season.

Speaking of hockey, the gentleman who gave me the ticket is from Plover, Wisconsin, home of Joe Pavelski of the Sharks. Sport connects us all.

Best,

Sean

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