Doc Rivers was lured back to coaching by the chance to compete for an NBA title with the Milwaukee Bucks


MILWAUKEE (AP) — Doc Rivers and the Milwaukee Bucks have both suffered plenty of disappointments in the playoffs recently.

Now he joins the Bucks in an effort to live up to high expectations by winning their second title in four years. Rivers will make his debut on Monday when Milwaukee begins a five-game road trip against the defending champion Denver Nuggets.

Rivers held his introductory news conference as coach of Milwaukee on Saturday, four days after the Bucks Adrian Griffin was fired Only 43 games during his tenure. The Bucks were 30-13 at the time of Griffin’s exit, a testament to this franchise’s readiness to win big while featuring two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and seven-time All-NBA guard Damian Lillard. on its roster,

After The Philadelphia 76ers fired him After a third consecutive second-round playoff exit last year, Rivers began this season as an ESPN analyst. The opportunity to lead the Bucks brought him back into coaching.

“I wasn’t just going to take a job,” Rivers said. “I was contacted several times this season, and I didn’t even pick up the call. I was very serious. If the right opportunity presents itself, I will listen. If not, I was fine.

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Joe Prunty will play his third and final game as interim head coach on Saturday night against the New Orleans Pelicans.

The immediate task for Rivers is to help the Bucks improve their continuity and upgrade a defense that has taken a big step back without him. junior holidaywho was involved offseason trade He brought them to Lillard.

Rivers will train on the field wearing his No. 31 Marquette jersey hangs from the ceiling, He starred at Marquette from 1980–83 and played 13 seasons in the NBA before beginning a head coaching career that spanned nearly a quarter century.

“It’s a dream to be back here,” Rivers said.

His head coaching experience represents a stark contrast to his predecessor. Griffin had been an NBA assistant for 16 years, but had never worked as a head coach until the Bucks hired him last summer.

Rivers has a 1,097–763 regular season record and 111–104 playoff mark in 24 seasons with the Orlando Magic (1999–2004), Boston Celtics (2004–13), Los Angeles Clippers (2013–20) and 76ers (2020–). Is. 23).

His first win with the Bucks would tie Larry Brown for the eighth-most career coaching wins in NBA history. He was named one of the 15 greatest coaches in league history in 2022 by a panel of 43 current and former NBA coaches in collaboration with the National Basketball Coaches Association.

This is the first time he has taken charge of a team in the middle of a season.

“It’s going to be a challenge,” Rivers said. “It’s a challenge I’m running towards. We have to organize quickly. Can’t try to do too much too soon. We are in the middle of the season, so we have to try to keep our momentum going. We have to make some changes, there’s no doubt about that.”

Rivers won a title with the Celtics in 2008 and lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 7 of the NBA Finals two years later. He led the Celtics to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2012.

But he never got beyond the second round of the playoffs with the Clippers and 76ers. He has faced a lot of criticism for his serial leads during his career.

The Bucks still believe he has what it takes to lead them to another title.

“What’s interesting to me is I know a bunch of people talking will talk about some negative things because that’s what social media is, but you talk about the success that he’s had and the teams. “Talk about his ability to put himself in a position to win.” , whether they’re locked up or not,” Bucks guard Pat Connaughton said after the hire was announced Friday night. “I look at our team and I look at the situations he’s coming in, we get in those situations, I think we have a good chance to finish.”

Milwaukee had its own postseason issues.

The Bucks got their win first title Half a century has passed in 2021 but since then it has not been able to move beyond the second round. They posted the NBA’s top regular-season records in 2019, 2020, and 2023, but failed to advance beyond the Conference Finals in any of those years.

Mike Budenholzer, who coached the Bucks to the 2021 title, was fired After last year’s shocking 4-1 win over the top-seeded Bucks in the first round playoff loss For the Miami Heat.

“It’s going to be fun to coach under someone who also has something to prove,” Bucks forward Bobby Portis said Friday. In the last few years, but we have not achieved what was supposed to be the target.

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