What have the Milwaukee Bucks improved under Doc Rivers? Breaking down 3 areas

Charlotte Hornets v Milwaukee Bucks
Charlotte Hornets v Milwaukee Bucks / Stacy Revere/GettyImages
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The Milwaukee Bucks made a pretty controversial decision to fire Adrian Griffin with a 31-13 record. The record was pretty good, but the team not quite firing on all cylinders defensively.

In the first 12 games under new head coach Doc Rivers, the reverse seems to be true. The Bucks have made several positive changes since the staff change. Can the record now follow? Let's look at some of the positive defensive changes that the Bucks have made since the the coaching change.

Transition defense and points in the paint

One inexcusable area the Milwaukee Bucks struggled in under Adrian Griffin was getting back in transition. Before Griffin was let go, the Bucks were allowing 15 opponent fast break points per game. That mark ranked them 23rd in the NBA.

In the month since then, the Milwaukee Bucks are now allowing just 12.1 fast break points per game, which is good for second in the NBA! I will give the disclaimer that prioritizing getting back on defense does come with the trade off of less pursuit of offensive rebounds. However, the scoring of this year's Milwaukee Bucks team has never really been a question of competency, just efficiency at times. Also, having Khris Middleton back soon is only going to help the Bucks' offense.

Also, better transition defense means fewer layups and dunks in transition for opponents, so the Bucks have seen a pretty large improvement in opponent points in the paint. Under Griffin the Bucks allowed 54 points in the paint per game. For a team that has Defensive Player of the Year candidate Brook Lopez and former Defensive Player of the Year Giannis Antetokounmpo, that is unacceptable. There's no reason the Bucks should have been 25th in points in the paint allowed to opponents.

However, the transition defense, coupled with the Bucks packing the paint and defending the 3-point line (more similar to the Mike Budenholzer defensive philosophy), the Bucks have lowered their opponent's points in the paint to just 48 per game, a number that is much easier to digest and has them in the top 10 at seventh in the league since the coaching change.

Essentially, by getting back in transition and defending the paint better, the Bucks have taken away three possessions that end in a layup, dunk or easy paint shot from their opponents with six fewer points per game.