The good and the bad about Doc Rivers, the new coach of the Milwaukee Bucks

Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets
Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The Milwaukee Bucks have shaken things up in the middle of the season, firing coach Adrian Griffin after just 43 games. This move was a shock to almost everyone, given that it was Griffin's first year with the team, and the Bucks, despite not looking overly impressive, still had a 30-13 record. But the organization clearly felt they needed a change and didn't want to waste any time.

Rather than stick it out with their rookie head coach, the Bucks decided to bring in veteran head coach Doc Rivers, who coached the Sixers for the last three seasons and the Clippers, Celtics, and Magic prior to that. Let's dive in to the good and bad about Doc Rivers for this Bucks team.

The Good

For starters, Doc Rivers will provide the Bucks with the comfort of once again having an experienced head coach. With 24 years of being an NBA head coach under his belt, Doc is one of the most experienced head coaches in the league. Milwaukee clearly was no longer comfortable with a rookie head coach steering the ship, and they wanted someone who was more qualified.

There were reports that surfaced stating that the Bucks originally planned to take a step back this season, and that was why they were comfortable hiring a coach with no experience. But once the Damian Lillard trade happened and the Bucks were in full title contention again, having a first-year head coach no longer matched the team's direction and expectation level.

Doc Rivers should provide more stability and a safer floor for this Bucks team given his experience level and history of regular season success in the NBA. The team should have a much better base system than they had under Griffin, and Rivers should understand how to make this team work on both ends better than Griffin did.

This stability should show itself on the offensive end, where Rivers is likely to lean very heavily into the Lillard/Giannis Antetokounmpo pick-and-roll. He did this last season with James Harden and Joel Embiid, running 22.6 pick-and-rolls between them per game en-route to the league's third-best offensive rating, per Last Night in Basketball.

This is good news for a Bucks team that needs some structure on offense. Although they currently have the second-best offensive rating in the league, they could still be even better on that end, and things don't seem to be totally clicking. Dame seems to largely do his own thing, Giannis does his own thing, and in the end, it usually works, but it could work even better if the two played off each other even more.

Getting the ball in Lillard's hands more and helping the two stars play together could take this offense from really good to historically good.

Another positive is that Rivers has shown the ability to have a solid defense despite not having lockdown guards. Last season, his starting guards were James Harden and Tyrese Maxey, both negative defenders, and the Sixers still had a top-ten defensive rating on the season.

Adrian Griffin was unable to adjust his defense to fit the personnel that the Bucks had. As a result, the Bucks have consistently been around 20th or worse in the league in defensive rating this season. Milwaukee needs to find a coach who can make a defense work with weak point-of-attack defenders, and there is some evidence to suggest that Doc Rivers can do that.

The Bad

The main case against Doc Rivers is that his teams have shriveled up in the playoffs a lot. In 19 playoff appearances as a head coach, he has only made it out of the second round three times. That doesn't exactly sound like the guy you want coaching a championship-or-bust team.

Rivers has also become notorious for choking away playoff series leads. In potential series-clinching games in his career, he has an abysmal 16-33 record. Incredibly, he has blown a 3-1 lead in a series three separate times, something that has only happened 13 total times in NBA history.

Overall, Doc has a horrible history of choking in the playoffs and blowing many fourth-quarter leads and series leads that have prevented him from reaching a conference finals since 2012. Some of this can be attributed to not having the most clutch superstars on his team, but he has still been a common denominator for a ton of playoff collapses.

A team with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard, and Khris Middleton would help him avoid playoff chokes, but Rivers still has become known for not being able to adapt in the playoffs. He seemingly finds what works on offense, runs that into the ground, and doesn't do a whole lot else. His teams have sometimes had limited ball movement and off-ball movement, and they rely too much on one action. As a result, he doesn't seem to have many answers for what playoff teams throw at him during a series, and eventually his teams sputter out. All of this sounds scarily similar to the problems the Bucks were having under Mike Budenholzer.

The Bucks will hope that Rivers' base system and coaching ability can raise their floor, but come May and June they will likely need to rely on their talent to get them over the top.