Milwaukee Bucks hiring Doc Rivers as head coach after firing Adrian Griffin

BOSTON — Less than 24 hours after firing Adrian Griffin, the Milwaukee Bucks are hiring Doc Rivers to be the team’s new head coach.

Milwaukee fired Griffin just over halfway through his first season as head coach, despite the team sitting at 30-13 and in second place in the Eastern Conference. But there were a lot of rumblings in recent weeks that Milwaukee players and staffers had lost faith in their first-year head coach, which started all the way back in training camp.

Griffin was hired over the summer after Milwaukee fired Mike Budenholzer following an embarrassing first-round exit by the top-seeded Bucks. It’s interesting that they’re now turning to Rivers to lead a team with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard, and title aspirations. 

Rivers was fired by the Philadelphia 76ers last year after the team blew a 3-2 series lead and lost to the Celtics in the East semis. He hasn’t made it out of the second round of the playoffs since 2012. 

That blown lead to the Celtics is pretty much the norm for Rivers-led teams. There have only been 13 teams in NBA history to blow a 3-1 series lead, and Rivers has coached three of them. In his career, his teams are just 6-10 in Game 7s. 

He did, of course, help lead the Celtics to a title in 2008 for his only championship as a head coach. The Bucks are obviously hoping that they’ll get that version of Doc Rivers.

But Milwaukee’s issues this season appear to be much more than just a rookie head coach though. The Bucks have been a mess defensively, ranking 21st in the NBA with a 116.8 defensive rating, which probably stems from the team trading away their defensive leader in Jrue Holiday to bring in Lillard. (Holiday is now on the first-place Celtics, who own the NBA’s second-best defensive rating at the moment.)

Doc has half a season to fix the Bucks and get them ready for a long playoff run. If the basketball gods have any sense of humor, we’ll be treated to a Milwaukee-Philadelphia playoff series (likely in the second round) this summer.

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