EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 15, 2010

The worst ticket in sports

Thankfully, now for some real games

Michael Muldoon

BOSTON — Fan Appreciation Night at the Garden was more like Take Advantage of the Fan Night.

Boston's Big 3 of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were in civvies resting for the playoffs. Starting center Kendrick Perkins (so he wouldn't get his 16th technical and a suspension!) and ill reserve guard Tony Allen also sat it out.

Milwaukee's stars Michael Redd (out most of the season with a torn ACL and MCL) and rapidly emerging star 7-footer Andrew Bogut (horrific fall late in season) are out for the year.

The Bucks JVs beat the Boston JVs, 106-95. An hour after the game, the Dwyane Wade-less Heat finally subdued the historically bad Nets in double-OT. That means the fourth-seeded C's will meet the fifth-seeded Heat in the opening round of the best of-7 Eastern Conference playoffs.

The first two games will be in Boston but the days and times won't be announced until today. The opener will be Saturday or Sunday.

The other team Boston could have faced would have been none other than the banged-up Bucks.

Needless to say, that would have been a more favorable draw with Bogut (15.9 rebounds, 10.2 rebounds, 2.5 blocks) done.

Back to last night.

It was the D-League All-Stars (or at least the Nets) at hefty NBA prices. Actually, it wasn't even the D-League All-Stars. Boston call-up Oliver Lafayette (7 points in his debut) didn't even make the D-League All-Star game!

It's the risk you take attending a regular-season finale. Savvy fans know to dole out those ducats in advance to people they don't like: the paperboy who never misses a puddle, the sibling who went Ivy League to your safety school, the mail man who must think you live next door.

Oh, well, NBA clubs know it and throw in some perks ... maybe not Kendrick, but some prizes.

For example, the Celtic players gave away their game sneakers to lucky fans.

The Bucks featured a couple no-name All-Name Teamers in Royal Ivey, which has always been my favorite color, and Luc Mbah a Moute, which is Cameroonian for Brian Scalabrine.

With all due respect, if I wanted to see Dan Gadzuric (14 points and 9 rebounds, after coming in averaging 2.4 points and 2.7 rebounds), I could have seen the former Governor Dummer Academy star play Brooks

School for free in North Andover circa 1998. Come to think of it, I did see Gadzuric for free vs. Brooks, and Brooks' blue-collar 6-1 center/rower Dan Dunn of Salem wasn't afraid to break a sweat .... unlike Boston's infuriating Rasheed Wallace ( 9 points including 1 of 4 on his beloved 3-pointers).

Wallace and Bucks gunner Jerry Stackhouse (17 points off the bench) may have been the two players North Carolina coach Dean Smith despised most in his 36 years in Chapel Hill.

Fitting they were key players last night.

The newcomer Lafayette no doubt mightily impressed his future employers in Kazakhstan.

He was acquired from the D-League's Fort Wayne Mad Ants, but it was only the fans who were mad last night.

Michael Muldoon is an Eagle-Tribune sportswriter. E-mail him at mmuldoon@eagletribune.com.