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For Bucks, new arena is also avenue to sell Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Construction vehicles and dusty streets surround the Milwaukee Bucks’ new downtown arena that is less than a year away from completion.

The state-of-the-art facility will be the Bucks’ home starting in 2018. But in many respects the massive project is more than just about basketball.

Team and arena executives want to get major entertainment acts to stop in Milwaukee. They want the arena to be a driver for ambitious downtown redevelopment.

And to do that, they have to go out to market and sell Milwaukee.

“We want to create an international destination with talent. We want to compete with every major city, we want to be on every tour stop,” team president Peter Feigin said. “We have this one window of time to tell our story and our narrative around the world.”

That is exactly what Feigin, along with team and arena officials, planned to do this week in London. They were meeting with concert promoters and artist management firms in hopes of bringing major international acts to Milwaukee.

The groundwork was laid in part when the Bucks named Raj Saha as general manager of the Wisconsin Entertainment & Sports Center. He managed the O2 arena in London for arena giant AEG, and also helped stage the 2012 London Olympics and 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The Bucks view the $524 million arena project, which was partially financed by public funding, as a centerpiece of downtown revitalization. The facility will replace the 30 year-old BMO Harris Bradley Center, which sits next to the project.

While the Bradley Center did draw its share of major acts, Feigin and Saha said there were limitations to the aging arena.

The steel trusses and infrastructure at the new arena have been built to carry and support the weight needed for the elaborate-style productions used in major concerts, Feigin said. The arena has 200,000 pounds of rigging capability, according to the Bucks.

With a seating capacity of 17,500 for basketball and 500 more for concerts, the arena has 10,000 seats in the lower bowl, which planners say will help audio-visual experiences. Two-thirds of the seats in the Bradley Center are in the upper level.

And Feigin says that the Bucks have placed a premium on acoustics, including a roof designed to lower reverberation and reduce echoes. The arena also has what’s called “specialized low frequency absorption” for bass notes allowing for cleaner bass sound.

“It’s secondarily about basketball, probably the only thing that’s secondarily about basketball is how you design this so it’s a surreal acoustic experience, as well as a visual experience,” Feigin said.

In Saha’s experience, only a handful of U.S. arena executive have traveled to London to talk to promoters. Consider this trip another way in which the Bucks, who have New York-based ownership, are thinking big.

The area already has a reputation as a music destination with Milwaukee’s Summerfest music festival. The demographics are different in Milwaukee from Chicago and Minneapolis, Saha said.

The first new sign of how things are changing popped up this summer. The Bucks moved into a new, state-of-the-art practice facility downtown, across the street from the arena construction site.

“It’s amazing. It’s refreshing to walk in here every day,” guard Malcolm Brogdon said after the first practice last week. “Everything in here is just made to perfection.”

The facility and new arena give the Bucks two new draws with which to attract or retain players in the future. With the young team itself on the rise after two playoff appearances in three seasons, Milwaukee’s image as an NBA outpost is starting to disappear.

Similarly, the Bucks see the new arena as an avenue to open new inroads into Milwaukee, music and otherwise.

“We don’t think there’s any reason why – especially logistically, geographically, monetarily – we (couldn’t) get the music acts. Part of the reason we haven’t is because we haven’t been out there to tell our story, to market, to sell,” Feigin said. “That’s really what we’re doing.”

Fast start, LeBron James enough for Cavaliers to hold on to win, even series

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For the first time in 11 days, we had an NBA playoff game that finished with a single-digit margin. Barely.

It didn’t look like it would be early — Boston missed lay-ups and dunks all through the first quarter, LeBron James was being LeBron James, and the Cavaliers had a 16 point first quarter lead. It was 15 at the half.

But these Celtics would not go quietly.

Boston started to find it’s offensive groove — hunting Kevin Love incessantly — but in the end couldn’t get enough stops because, well, LeBron James. He finished with 44 points on 17-of-28 shooting, his sixth 40-point game of these playoffs. He got wherever he wanted on the floor all night, carving up the top-ranked regular season defense of the Celtics like a surgeon. No other Cavalier had more than 14 points (Kyle Korver), but the supporting cast played enough defensive and made hustle plays to hang on.

@realtristan13 with the swat and @kingjames with the finish!

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Cleveland got the win, 111-102, and evened the series at 2-2. Game 5 is Wednesday night back in Boston.

What Celtics fans can feel good about is their team’s resilience and grit. Down big for the second-straight game on the road in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics fought back from as much as 19 down earlier in the game to get it to single digits and make the fans in Quicken Loan Arena nervous in the fourth quarter. That is something the team can carry over to Game 5, as they can some defensive tweaks that shut down opportunities for Korver and the rest of the supporing cast.

What should bother Celtics fans was another night where they struggled to generate offense in the face of more intense defensive pressure.

That came from the opening tip, with the Celtics missing a few layups and a couple of Jaylen Brown dunk attempts — all of which allowed the Cavs to get early offenses and mismatches going the other way. Those missed shots fueled a 10-0 Cavaliers run that had Cleveland up 19-10 early. The Celtics shot 3-of-10 at the rim in the first quarter, shot 26 percent overall, and trailed 34-18 after one.

The second quarter saw the Celtics start to find their offense — they scored 35 points on 50 percent shooting — but they only gained one point on the Cavaliers lead because Boston couldn’t get stops. LeBron had 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the first half to pace a Cleveland team that shot 61.5 percent overall and hit 6-of-11 threes. That’s why the Cavs were up 68-53 at the half.

The Celtics energy was better than Game 2, but in the first half they looked like a young team, one that made a lot of mistakes.

In the second half, the Celtics started to figure things out — they started making the extra pass, they got stops for stretches, they looked more like a young team figuring things out. They finished the night with 25 from Jaylen Brown, 17 from Jayson Tatum, and Terry Rozier had 16 points and 11 assists.

They just couldn’t completely close the gap because they couldn’t get consistent stops — the Cavaliers shot 60 percent as a team for the game, and a ridiculous true shooting percentage of 59.6. Cleveland mercilessly hunted Rozier on switches — forcing him on to LeBron or Kevin Love then attacking — and the Cavs got enough from their role players. Tristan Thompson did what he needed to bringing energy in the paint and some defense, plus he had 13 points. Korver was diving on the floor for loose balls. Larry Nance Jr. had his second good game in a row. George Hill had 13 points.

And whenever the Cavaliers needed a play, they had LeBron to turn to. He set another NBA record on Monday night, most playoff field goals made for a career.

LeBron is what needs to worry Boston most of all. The Celtics will be better at home in Game 5 — they have not lost in TD Garden all postseason — but if this thing goes seven, it’s a dangerous thing when the other team has the best player on the planet.

LeBron James passes Kareem to become all-time leader in playoff made field goals

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LeBron James is already the NBA’s all-time leading playoff scorer, having passed Michael Jordan last postseason.

However, LeBron racked up his buckets in the era of the three-point shot (as did Jordan, to a lesser extent), so Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the all-time leader in field goals made in the postseason. A lot of them beautiful skyhooks that still give Celtics fans nightmares.

Monday night, LeBron made history passing Abdul-Jabar for the top spot in NBA playoff made field goals.

Just add that to the already insane resume.

Kevin Love with insane touchdown outlet to LeBron James for bucket

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Not sure what part of this was better.

Was it Kevin Love‘s length-of-the-court outlet touchdown pass that was right on the money, where only the receiver could get it?

Or was it LeBron James, with a catch in a crowd that would make Julio Jones’ draw drop?

Either way, this first quarter bucket from the Cavaliers may well be the play of the game.

Spurs disbanding all-female dance team in favor of co-ed hype team

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Is this the wave of the future?

Since then newly-minted owner Jerry Buss started the Laker Girls’ in 1979, all-female dance teams have become standard around the NBA. However, with how things are now viewed through the prism of the #metoo movement, and reports on how NFL cheerleaders were treated in places such as Washington and Miami, a lot of professional sports teams are re-thinking the concept of female dance teams.

The Spurs are apparently doing away with theirs, to be replaced by a 35-person co-ed “hype team.”

The Spurs have not said officially that this is the end of the Silver Dancers. “Lack of interest” is an odd reason to give — is there suddenly less interest now than there was five years ago? A number of teams have both female dance teams and co-ed “spirit” or “hype” teams.

Far more likely, this is about perception in what is a conservative state and marketplace.

The question is will this become a trend, both around the NBA and professional sports. As the teams try to evolve and make more dynamic their in-arena experiences, are the dance teams going to fade from view?

Just something to keep and eye on going forward.