Doc Rivers Rocked Adrian Griffin To Sleep and Took His Job | Can He Wake Up Damian Lillard’s Defense?

Adrian Griffin’s tenure as Milwaukee Bucks coach lasted all of 43 games. He won 30 of them but that wasn’t enough for him to recognize the double-dribbling that was happening behind his back. 

I saw a video of bank robbers dragging an entire ATM stolen in broad daylight, allegedly, through the streets of Oakland, California. One hour earlier, a separate ATM was allegedly stolen from a nearby business according to police. 

Doc Rivers is now the coach of a ready-made Milwaukee Bucks championship team, with the NBA proving once again that it is not only a player’s league, but it’s also one where the OGs lie in the cut and rock unsuspecting rookie coaches with loaded teams to sleep, in hopes over the last great takeover. 

Rivers reminds me of those bank robbers because they were so blatant about their intentions and there was still nothing anybody could do to stop the inevitable. 

Rivers, 62, reached an agreement in principle with the Bucks, upending the career of a 49-year-old rookie young coach, who Rivers was reportedly advising, consulting and mentoring for more than a month. 

The way Griffin was unceremoniously shown the door with his Milwaukee team sitting second in the Eastern Conference, also reminded me of those bank robbers. You wouldn’t hang out with those guys because you would be leery that people that are skilled at robbing an ATM in broad daylight could definitely rob the average person blind at any time. 

Griffin let Doc into his space and then as certain aspects of Milwaukee’s team began to reveal itself, the players and organization didn’t like what they saw. Somehow, in between advising Griffin and just being in the mix, Doc was able to swing another championship-ready situation. 

We don’t know the particulars of how Doc went from adviser to the head coach to the head coach, but Griffin was certainly robbed of an opportunity, and the way his cookie crumbled reeks of backdoor dealings. 

That’s all water under the bridge now. Nefarious implications aside, there’s plenty of reasons why Doc would be a popular choice to replace Griffin. To be successful as a Bucks coach you have to be accepted and respected by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard. You also have to be able to pull a championship effort out of them.

Hard-nosed defense down the stretch of games and high IQ interaction was lacking on this Bucks team. Lillard, in particular, has not brought any defensive intensity and is still trying to be the same player he was in Portland when he was asked to carry the load and his defensive contributions weren’t spoken about. 

Griffin had a 30-13 (.698) record, but the Bucks had dropped from fourth in defensive efficiency last season to 22nd. A decline was expected when they lost  Jrue Holiday, but not to this degree. 

Scoring has not been a problem. Milwaukee is tied with Indiana atop the NBA, averaging 124.6 points per game. 

So if management feels that the only thing the team is lacking is defensive principles and a coach the stars will go all out for, then Doc Rivers finds himself in another great position coaching some of the greatest players in NBA history. 


Rivers has a long history in Milwaukee. He was an All-America star at Marquette in the early 1980s.

After a successful NBA career, he got into coaching and has had 16 straight winning seasons since winning the NBA title with the Boston Celtics in 2008. Only Gregg Popovich, Phil Jackson and Pat Riley have accomplished such a feat, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Doc’s 1,097 regular-season victories are ninth in NBA history, and his 111 playoff victories are fourth all time.


Rivers has struggled in the playoffs with some talented teams and he’s blown more 3-1 playoff series leads than any coach in history, suggesting the game has passed him by over the years. 

His 10 Game 7 losses in his career includes a dubious run of five straight and Doc has also lost nine straight games with a chance to reach the conference finals, according to ESPN Stats & Information, so if you’re looking for a closer, he might not be the guy. The Lillard-Giannis tandem is only a half a season in and they are winning at almost a .700 clip. 

The Bucks aren’t in disarray. The coach wasn’t in over his head as far as X’s and O’s. 

Doc sold somebody a dream and they decided to accept it, despite the fact that his recent track record implies that he’s the last guy you would call to close out a series or championship. 

Another eyebrow-raising part of this firing is the fact that it’s clear that Greek Freak didn’t want Griffin there anymore. If he or Lillard had spoken out in defense of their coach Griffin would probably have a job today.

The fact that Giannis has now run two coaches out of town in less than two seasons is something to take a look at. There’s a possible lack of accountability or elevation of ego on the franchise star’s part within those moves. Maybe deflecting from the premature, embarrassing and early playoff exits the team has suffered since winning that improbable NBA championship in 2021. 

Dame Lillard Ranks 81st in Defensive Win Share

Griffin was hired to replace Mike Budenholzer in June after Giannis forced him out. Whatever was happening behind the scenes, Griffin didn’t have the support of his superstars. According to NBA Radio on Sirius 86, a couple of weeks into Griffin’s tenure players were already complaining about his defensive schemes, and with his replacement sitting there waiting in the wings like a thief in the night, local reporters say this isn’t as big a surprise as one might think. 

Skip Bayless added some more insight into the debacle, blaming the preseason departure of assistant coach Terry Stotts, who previously coached Dame in Portland, as a move that condemned the relationship between Griffin and Dame DOLLA from the door.

Doc Rivers Under The Gun To Right The Chemistry

Once the ink is dry on this deal, Doc Rivers doesn’t have time to transition, and he must hit the ground running quickly to change a narrative that has become like an albatross holding down his legacy. 

Doc failed to win big with CP3, Blake Griffin and Lob City, couldn’t make it work with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid or James Harden and Joel Embiid. Also, how focused is he really? 

Just as soon as ABC and ESPN dismantled its successful announcing team, getting rid of Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy and replacing them with Doris Burke and Doc Rivers, the sidelines came calling and the chance to right all his recent wrongs was too big a temptation to resist for one of the game’s most calculated sideline assassins.

So this is a moment of truth for the wily veteran coach who gets one last crack at greatness. It also serves as a very important life lesson for Adrian Griffin, that one can get pickpocketed in the open, so have better corporate vision next time.

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