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Bucks Fire Griffin, Hire Rivers in Shocking Coaching Shake-Up

The Bucks make a shocking move by firing head coach Adrian Griffin and hiring Doc Rivers

The NBA season is halfway through, and some teams are already looking for a change in direction. While it is common for struggling teams or those who failed to meet their expectations to fire their head coach, it is rare for a team with one of the best records in the league to do so. However, that is what the Milwaukee Bucks did on Tuesday when they parted ways with their first-year head coach Adrian Griffin and replaced him with veteran coach Doc Rivers.

Griffin’s surprising dismissal

After a disappointing playoff exit last year, Griffin was hired by the Bucks in the offseason after they fired Mike Budenholzer. He had led the team to two consecutive top seeds in the Eastern Conference but failed to reach the NBA Finals. Griffin, a former assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors, was expected to bring a defensive mindset and a fresh voice to the Bucks, who have two superstars in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard.


The Bucks started the season strong, winning 30 of their first 43 games and ranking second in the East behind the Boston Celtics. They also had the best offensive rating in the league, scoring 121.3 points per 100 possessions. However, their defense was a concern, as they ranked 22nd in defensive rating, allowing 116.8 points per 100 possessions. They also struggled to create turnovers, ranking last in that category.


According to multiple reports, Griffin’s relationship with the players and the front office deteriorated over time, as he was criticized for his rotations, communication, and accountability over the team. He reportedly lost the locker room after he called out some players for their lack of effort in a play-in game against the Detroit Pistons, which the Bucks won in overtime. After they returned to Milwaukee, the Bucks decided to fire Griffin, despite their impressive record.

Rivers’ quick return to coaching

The Bucks did not waste any time in finding Griffin’s replacement, as they immediately reached out to Doc Rivers, who was working as an ESPN analyst after he parted ways with the Philadelphia 76ers in the offseason. Rivers, who has 24 years of head coaching experience with the Orlando Magic, the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the 76ers, agreed to a deal with the Bucks within hours of Griffin’s firing.


Rivers is one of the most respected and accomplished coaches in the NBA, having won 1,097 games in his career, which ranks ninth all-time. He also won the NBA championship with the Celtics in 2008 and reached the Finals again in 2010. He has a postseason record of 111-104, which ranks seventh in NBA history.


Rivers was already familiar with Griffin, as he had been mentoring him since the start of the season. The Bucks had hired Rivers as a consultant to help Griffin with his transition to head coaching. Rivers had also been in touch with Antetokounmpo and Lillard, who had expressed their admiration for him and their interest in playing for him.

A risky move for the Bucks

The Bucks made a bold and shocking move by firing Griffin and hiring Rivers, hoping it would help them achieve their ultimate goal of winning the NBA title. However, the move also comes with risks and uncertainties, as Rivers has a mixed track record in the playoffs and a history of clashing with star players.


Rivers has been criticized for his inability to win close games and series, as he has lost six consecutive Game 7s in his career, the most by any coach in NBA history. He has also blown three 3-1 leads in the playoffs, the most by any coach in NBA history. He has not reached the conference finals since 2012, despite coaching talented teams like the Clippers and the 76ers.

Rivers has also had conflicts with his star players, such as Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Ben Simmons.


He has been accused of favoring some players over others, of being too stubborn with his system, and of losing his voice and influence over time. He has also been in controversial trades and signings, such as trading away Tobias Harris and signing his son Austin Rivers.


The Bucks are taking a gamble by hiring Rivers, hoping he can bring out the best in Antetokounmpo and Lillard, who are both in their prime and hungry for a championship. They are also hoping that he can improve their defense, their chemistry, and their clutch performance. However, they are also risking their chemistry, continuity, and future, as they have made such a drastic change in the middle of a successful season.

 

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