In the afterglow of the Milwaukee Bucks title in the summer of 2021, one player stood out among the rest for his service and celebration. That was one Jeff Teague, who happily declared that, “I just got an A on the group project”. You damn well did, Jeff.
Now, approaching three years on from that moment of triumph the Milwaukee Bucks are looking straight down the barrel of yet another group project. Much of the superstructure of that first successful project remain as far as player personnel goes, and the team has even found a head coach in a similar mold as Mike Budenholzer to boot. What that likely means is that any post-season success will come not through some bout of overwhelming tactical guile, a deep roster, or any nonsense like that.
No, if the Milwaukee Bucks are going to win another title this summer, they’ll have to do it by being just a little bit less bad than their opponent four out of seven games, four times in a row. It isn’t rocket science per se, but these guys are literally putting the pieces together on the fly. The only question that remains (besides whether the Bucks can learn to play truly winning two-way(ish) basketball in a few months time) is this: Who gets to be this year’s version of Teague?
Milwaukee Bucks Links
I won’t go so far as to say the Griffin tenure was more or less doomed the second the Terry Stotts departure happened, but a significant chunk of benefit of the doubt was burned before the season got underway. That incidents kept popping up left, right, and center in spite of the record and notable lack of backroom trouble in prior years should’ve been enough of a signal that this marriage wasn’t going to go the distance.
The Bucks Had No Choice but to Fire Adrian Griffin (The Ringer)
While Kevin O’Connor runs through the myriad problems caused, in part at least, by Griffin’s choices as head coach, we shouldn’t lose sight of the structural weaknesses that did not vanish now that Doc Rivers is here. The point about guaranteeing young guys minutes to try and prepare them for a real role in the playoffs is valid, but also laughable in the context of these or any recent iterations of the Bucks. If reinforcements are to be found to stiffen Milwaukee’s backbone, they’re almost assuredly arriving via trade or buyout rather than the end of the bench.
More of the same as the previous pieces with some more details if you’re curious. Let’s just agree to be extremely thankful that Giannis signed on another dotted line before rubber met road and the ship started sailing sideways.
How will launching the Doc Rivers era on the long road trip work? Your guess is as good as Bucks’ (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
And for my pessimism above, there is a strain of optimism emanating from the Bucks locker room that they’re all talented and professional enough to pick up Rivers’s system with minimal practice time. We can safely assume the revamped coaching staff will focus most of their off-court time to adjusting the defense to stop the bleeding since the offense worked well enough with minimal direction from the sideline. The upside is there is time left to play. The downside is that there isn’t much of it.
A look back at Milwaukee Bucks interim coaches throughout history (Milwaukee Record)
Long live Joe Prunty who has been there to save this franchise not once, but twice from coaches who evidently wore out their welcome with the roster and front office. That’s true heroism.
Interesting little bit of news that dropped somewhat out of nowhere since Bally Sports was ostensibly saved by Amazon a few weeks back. Getting to watch games free over-the-air is a great deal for folks in southeast Wisconsin, and it is also cool that the Clippers game on March 4th will be simulcast in Spanish on Telemundo Wisconsin. Appears the Bucks are testing the waters for future moves, mayhaps? You know, just in case other media partners go bankrupt and income gaps need to be filled somehow.
Know Your NBA Enemy
Denver Nuggets - Denver Stiffs - Denver Nuggets win hard fought game 111-105 against Philadelphia 76ers without Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid is shameless. (I really couldn’t care less about him or Jokic, but any ammo handed to me to further the bit will be used accordingly)
Portland Trail Blazers - Blazer’s Edge - Who are the Trail Blazers Midway Through the Season?
The Blazers are bad, Deandre Ayton could be phoning it in, playing in a bad scheme to utilize his talents, or both, and Scoot Henderson has been bad even coming off the bench (with the mitigating factors of his youth and the pressure placed on top picks to perform). But for everything the Blazers are this season, they’ll surely look to come out as worldbeaters for Dame’s return home.
Dallas Mavericks - Mavs Moneyball - Mavericks fan Patrick Mahomes, teammates with Taylor Swift’s boyfriend, makes the Super Bowl
People are constantly asking me about what proper SEO looks like. For a long time I didn’t have a perfect example to give them. My colleague Ben Zadjel at Mavs Moneyball unlocked the code with this one. Bravo.
Literally, what are the odds that John Collins and Collin Sexton go on a hot streak at the exact same time to power a relatively quick offense and apparently the league’s best second-chance point scoring team right as they face the Bucks at home? Thanks a lot, Adam Silver.
Comment of the Week
In a week where there was plenty of meaningful discussion about the somewhat chaotic state of the Milwaukee Bucks, the canning of Griffin, the hiring (lamented or otherwise) of Rivers, and much more besides, I’m extremely pleased to hand this week’s COTW award to Dirk_Tan who knew exactly what they were doing with this one on the rapid recap for the first Cavs game last week:
Bucks beat the Cavs. Cause of death? Pruntforce trauma...
...I’ll see myself out.
The Social Media Section
Every Visit Milwaukee-Bobby Portis collab has been an absolute banger. Keep them coming!
Nah wtf, I didn’t even realize Cam has an Insta and that he’s the class clown? I was unfamiliar with your game, Mr. Payne. Apologies.
By “turn of the tide” did Khris mean to imply he knew of Griffin’s firing before anyone else?
Trade deadline tampering SZN
Giannis and Mariah are for the people
(So is MarJon)
Thank God we found a use for Robin’s talents and contract and use of a roster spot
I swear if Doc is able to unlock Jae, we’re cooking with gas
Riley’s 2023-2024 Regular Season Prediction Record: 26-20
Milwaukee Bucks 2023-2024 Actual Regular Season Record: 32-14
As Lori Nickel pointed out in her column, Doc gets to take over just when the climb ahead gets that much more treacherous. Good luck to him and the crew!
@ Denver Nuggets, Monday - 8:00 PM CT
@ Portland Trail Blazers, Wednesday - 9:00 PM CT
@ Dallas Mavericks, Saturday - 7:30 PM CT
@ Utah Jazz, Sunday - 7:00 PM CT
Much like last week, I’m going to pin my hopes on the crappy opponent remaining crappy and a rested team on Sunday to help power us through. A 2-2 week on the road would be a solid start for Rivers, even if those wins only come against lesser competition in the Blazers and the Jazz.