Doc Rivers' big flaw comes back to bite him in Bucks' season-ending Game 6 loss

Milwaukee Bucks v Indiana Pacers - Game Six
Milwaukee Bucks v Indiana Pacers - Game Six / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

The 2023-24 NBA season is over for the Milwaukee Bucks.

After a thrilling comeback win in Game 5, the Bucks had a chance to extend this series against the rival Indiana Pacers to seven. They got help in the form of Damian Lillard, who made his return after missing the past two games. There was flirting about whether or not they would also get the playoff debut of Giannis Antetokounmpo, but he was ultimately ruled out just before tip-off.

The Bucks had their chances, and they made their runs, but they were simply no match for the Pacers in this matchup. After a hot start, the Bucks started digging their own grave with self-inflicted errors coming one after another, very quickly falling into a double-digit hole. Whenever they got it close, it felt like they did something wrong to lose the momentum.

When the horn sounded, Milwaukee's season concluded with a 120-98 defeat, sending this team into the off-season with questions aplenty. That's a discussion for another time (Stay tuned here).

Doc Rivers' big flaw comes back to bite him in Bucks' season-ending Game 6 loss

For months and months, Bucks fans have pleaded for Doc Rivers to give Andre Jackson Jr. a chance. Whenever he has, Jackson has typically repaid the favor with quality play. It made all of the sense in the world for the rookie to play in this series due to his quickness and athleticism, which is something the Milwaukee Bucks desperately needed against this particular game.

Defensively, Jackson had done his part in limiting Indiana's uber-athletic personnel, holding players to 7-of-26 shooting (26.9 percent) across the series, per Given how poorly the defense has been for the Milwaukee Bucks, a player like that needed to see time in this do-or-die game. Instead, Doc Rivers decided to roll with his veteran players on the wing.

It didn't pan out whatsoever.

Malik Beasley and Pat Connaughton struggled to stick with their matchup on defense all night long, consistently getting blown by or overpowered, leading to countless Pacer points. To make matters even worse, they didn't produce much on offense either, combining to notch a measly five points on 2-of-9 field goal shooting. That's simply unacceptable on the players but also on Doc Rivers.

Rivers has opted against giving the young guys consistent minutes since he came aboard, and it's been his biggest flaw. Fans sound like a broken record at this point, but there's simply just no logical reason that Jackson didn't check into Game 6 until late in the fourth. It felt like Mike Budenholzer sticking with George Hill in 2022 when everyone pleaded for him to throw Jevon Carter out there.

In both cases, the unwillingness to make the obvious move was gut-wrenching.

Would Jackson have made the ultimate difference? Likely not. Would he have played better defense and made more of an impact than Connaughton or Beasley did in Game 6? More than likely. It's tough for Milwaukee Bucks fans because everyone watching has seen what Jackson can do.

Elsewhere, Damian Lillard had 28 points, but it was clear that he was not 100 percent due to his injury. Bobby Portis and Brook Lopez each had 20, and Khris Middleton finished with 14. Outside of that, the other Milwaukee Bucks didn't produce much. That hurt, considering that the Pacers got 41 points out of two of their reserves in T.J. McConnell and Obi Toppin in a very lopsided bench effort.

The Milwaukee Bucks now head into the off-season falling short of their title hopes once again, and perhaps changes will be on the horizon.

Stay tuned for more Milwaukee Bucks analysis.