No one wants to play in Milwaukee.
Unless you don't play for Milwaukee. In which case, you might still not want to play in Milwaukee, or even be here.
It's cold. It's a city, but not a big city. In recent years, games were canceled from the national television schedule about as often as they were on. Which is to say, rarely. Rare, like advancing past the first round -- once since the 80's. Not a big market, not a big budget, supposedly not many fans or big names or much to do.
Bill Simmons, earlier today:
10. Bucks fans
FEAR THE DEER! FEAR THEM! YOU MUST FEAR THE DEER! COWER, DUCK YOUR HEAD AND PEE IN YOUR PANTS! FEAR THE DEER!!!!!!!!!!
(Follow-up note: I am expecting one of the great basketball crowds of the past 15 years in Milwaukee on Friday night. Just know that if it wasn't my daughter's birthday this weekend, I would have walked from Los Angeles to be at that game. OK, not really. But I would have done just about anything. Maybe for Round 2. Hold your heads high, people of Milwaukee. You proved this season that small market basketball can work with the right group of fans.)
I usually try get to the BC a couple hours before the tip. As early as possible, really, which usually means about 90 minutes early. And at that time, it's just hardwood waiting, quiet as can be. A high school band might be practicing, Energee might be rehearsing, but there isn't much bustle.
On Friday night, I don't forecast arriving until about 25 minutes before gametime...
It's an early start, 6:00 p.m. central, and unfortunately the city is not quite shutting down for this game. So I'll go to work, and then I'll go to work again. At which point, I expect to walk into a maelstrom of Milwaukee madness, if I may alliterate.
This is the biggest game in years for the Bucks. Game Three, we all just wanted one win in the series, and it was the loudest game of the season -- until Game Four. This? This is for four in a row, to clinch. And the fans will have their say.
To me, home court advantage is one of the most fascinating phenomenons in sports. Because it's so real. These are incredible, professional, grown-up athletes playing on courts with all the same dimensions. I mean, it's not like Milwaukee is really home to the Cameroonian, Argentine, Australian, or Primo Berezec, right? And yet the Hawks win about 83 % of the time at home, about 46 % of the time on the road. The Bucks win about 68 % of home games about 44 % of away games.
And that was when Milwaukee was bringing in about 15,000 sitting folks per night. This playoff atmosphere isn't just an additional three or four or five thousand people. In the regular season, Squad 6 would shout for everyone to hear; now they lead the cheer and everyone shouts. The Bucks are 2-0 at home in the playoffs, and be careful because the Hawks were also 2-0 at home in the playoffs until Wednesday. But make no mistake...
No one wants to play in Milwaukee right now.
Unless you play for Milwaukee. In which case, you are happy to be back: