Inside Doc Rivers’ rocky first weeks with Bucks and where Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard go from here


I was standing in my kitchen chopping a pepper when a text came in from my sister. “Bucks guy got fired?” And that’s how I learned that the Adrian Griffin era had come to an end. 

The move was at once stunning and unsurprising. As a rule, coaches don’t get fired when their team has the second-best record in the league. But then, the Bucks’ situation was unique and their success was in spite of Griffin and his sometimes baffling tactics, not because of him. 

From training camp, when he butted heads with assistant coach Terry Stotts, who later resigned, it was clear Griffin struggled to get everyone on the same page. Just a few days into the regular season, the veterans held an intervention with him to get him to change the defense. During the In-Season Tournament, Bobby Portis challenged him in the locker room after the loss to the Pacers, and early in January, Giannis Antetokounmpo told the media “we have to be coached better.” 

The Bucks have a short window to maximize the Antetokounmpo-Damian Lillard pairing, and Griffin wasn’t going to be the coach to do that. A midseason change is a bold move, but the Bucks were willing to take the risk rather than potentially let this season go to waste. 

The Doc is in

Almost immediately, it became apparent that the Bucks wanted to hire Doc Rivers to replace Griffin. Convincing him to come out of retirement and sorting out the details of a contract was going to take time, however, and no one knew exactly when the process would be complete. 

The fallout from Griffin’s sudden ousting and the mystery surrounding the expected Rivers appointment set the stage for a whirlwind week. While all of the off-court drama was swirling about, the Bucks were set to play three games in four nights at home against strong competition. 

Up first were the red-hot Cleveland Cavaliers, who a week earlier had embarrassed the Bucks by 40 in front of their new co-owner, Jimmy Haslem. Before the rematch in Milwaukee on Jan. 24, just 24 hours after Griffin had been let go, general manager Jon Horst took the podium…

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Author : Jack Maloney

Publish date : 2024-02-22 14:12:57

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