Gambling on Doc Rivers is continuing to look rough for the Milwaukee Bucks. On Friday (Manila time), they lost to a superbly undermanned Memphis Grizzlies team, 113-110, falling to a 3-7 record ever since Rivers took over for Adrian Griffin.

Mind you, they were also just trashed by the Miami Heat a game prior, a team that didn’t have Jimmy Butler and Terry Rozier, 123-97.

Here’s context as to how shorthanded the Grizzlies were:

What makes the slump worse is how the transition happened.

Keep in mind that Griffin’s departure last month was controversial as he led the Bucks to a 30-13 slate prior to getting fired (tied for second-best in the league). While he did have a star-studded team to work with, and losing the locker room is indeed a quick ticket to receive the boot, it shouldn’t be lost that he’s a rookie head coach that stirred the team to where it’s supposed to be, standings-wise at least.

Further, that abysmal defense that Griffin did a poor job on hasn’t exactly improved under Rivers overall. Sure, it’s up to 17th now and 10th in the timeframe since he arrived (Jan 29th-present). However, not only has it failed to translate to a winning record, the offense seems to have dipped, perhaps as a downside of the adjustments.

With Griffin – 124.6 points per game, 2nd in the league

With Rivers – 111.0 points per game, 24th in the league


Giannis Antetokounmpo is doing his thing being a human freight train and obliterating the stat sheet, but All-Star guard and first-year Buck Damian Lillard is back on the lukewarm list again. As he was picking up steam, Griffin was let go. Lillard was at 25.3 PPG under the rookie coach, but he’s currently at 21.1 PPG in eight games with Rivers, including five games with under 39% shooting.

Panic time?

A mere 10 games is a small sample size, but this is also one team that has no business losing to the Grizzlies’ second and third-stringers, especially with Antetokounmpo already going for 35 points, four rebounds, and 12 assists on 15-of-17 shooting. 

It’s their most embarrassing defeat yet, and they only went backwards. Unfortunately, Rivers is also continuing to point fingers at anyone and anything. Here he is after their 1-4 start blaming schedule makers and… mountains?

Now, just a few games after, and only a little over two weeks into his job, he’s calling out his players’ lack of focus, which is part of his job to manage:

Now, to top it all off, it’s not enough his team is having unknown players go for career games,  they have to throw weirdly savage jabs too. Here’s Grizzlies rookie back-up forward GG Jackson II after unloading 27 points and a career-high six threes on Milwaukee (note that it’s besides Ziaire Williams also dropping a career-best 27):

So, what now? Well, you can bet there’s a good amount of tension in the group. They got way worse as soon as the “needed” change was applied. While anxiety is in the air, though, there’s also a lot of basketball left to play, and they have time to figure it out. Rivers, Antetokounmpo, and Lillard are talented enough, and should be capable of bringing it together and picking up the team from this slump. They can draw inspiration from the LA Clippers, a team that went through the same concerns and is now playing brilliantly.