Milwaukee Bucks Secure Doc Rivers as Head Coach in Pursuit of Defensive Revival
In a surprising move that sent shockwaves through the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks have appointed Doc Rivers as their new head coach, aiming for a championship under his guidance.
The unexpected decision to part ways with Griffin on Tuesday, despite the team’s solid 30-13 start, marked a significant shift for the Bucks. Griffin had taken over this season, succeeding the dismissed Mike Budenholzer, who faced termination last off-season after the Bucks, as the top seed, exited the playoffs in the first round against the Miami Heat.
General manager Jon Horst, in a concise statement announcing Griffin’s departure, refrained from providing specific details on the decision. While the exact reasons remain undisclosed, a perceived decline in defensive performance and analytical metrics may have contributed to the belief within the Milwaukee organization that Griffin wasn’t the ideal figure to lead the Bucks to a championship.
The Milwaukee Bucks, known for their robust defensive identity anchored by two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and 2023 DPOY finalist Brook Lopez, have seen a decline, currently ranking 22nd in the NBA in defensive rating midway through the season. The departure of Jrue Holiday, a five-time All-Defensive Team guard, in the Damian Lillard acquisition deal has further impacted their defensive performance.
The question arises: Can Doc Rivers be the catalyst to reconstruct Milwaukee’s defensive identity and lead them to a championship? Despite past success with the Boston Celtics in 2008, Rivers has faced challenges since departing in 2013. Both the Los Angeles Clippers and the Philadelphia 76ers, teams he coached post-Celtics, failed to progress beyond the second round of the playoffs despite having championship-caliber rosters.
Rivers’ coaching journey took an interlude when the 76ers parted ways with him last May following three consecutive second-round exits. This marked the end of his 24-year coaching tenure, which included roles with the Orlando Magic, Celtics, Clippers, and 76ers. For the first time since 1999, Rivers found himself without a head coaching position.
Remaining active in the basketball sphere, Rivers embraced roles as a broadcast analyst for ESPN’s top TV team alongside Mike Breen and Doris Burke. Additionally, he took on a consulting role for Griffin in December, as reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania. This consultancy, reportedly initiated by the Bucks, paved the way for Rivers’ return to a full-time coaching position.
Now, after a half-season hiatus, Rivers is back on the NBA sidelines, leading a team crafted for championship contention. The pivotal question lingers: Can he deliver the success the Bucks are banking on?