The Milwaukee Bucks have the second-best record in the NBA at 30-13 and have won two straight games, but there had been talk of some discord in the locker room regarding first-year coach Adrian Griffin and his rotations. Nonetheless, it still was a shock that the Bucks fired Griffin on Tuesday ahead of a big home game Wednesday against red-hot Cleveland. The Bucks are -6.5 on the SportsLine consensus, and Griffin's firing likely won't change that number.
The Bucks hired Griffin over the summer to replace longtime coach Mike Budenholzer, a former NBA Coach of the Year who was fired after Milwaukee's first round exit last postseason. The 49-year-old Griffin had previously served a lengthy stint as a Raptors assistant.
According to ESPN, assistant coach Joe Prunty is expected to take over the interim job. He also previously served as Milwaukee's interim head coach in 2018 after Jason Kidd was fired. Prunty will serve as an interim coach for third time overall, as he also did so last season in Atlanta when Nate McMillan was canned. Prunty has a 23-16 record in an interim role. There are reports that the Bucks are seriously considering Doc Rivers for the full-time gig, however.
The timing is curious considering Milwaukee has won five of its last six games and is a season-high 17 games over .500. The offense is the best it has ever been with the addition of Damian Lillard, as the Bucks average 124.6 points per game, second in the league. Giannis Antetokounmpo also is playing what could be his best basketball with six triple-doubles on the season (one off a career high) and four this month alone. Antetokounmpo is averaging career highs in scoring (31.2 PPG, third in the league), assists (6.1) and field goal percentage (60.3) while ranking sixth in the NBA in rebounding (11.5).
The Bucks have had issues on the other end of the floor, however. The team's defense has taken a huge step back this season without Jrue Holiday, who was shipped out in the Lillard deal.
Bucks Defensive Ranks Past Two Seasons
4th in NBA
Opponents' field goal pct.
Defensive rebound pct.
There's no chance the Bucks would make this decision without Antetokounmpo signing off on it, and Rivers is a wildly popular coach with players around the league. Rivers has led just one team to a title, winning a ring with Boston in 2008. Milwaukee is currently +475 at BetMGM to win the title this summer. Those odds haven't changed with the news of Griffin's firing.
Cleveland enters on an NBA-best eight-game winning streak despite playing that stretch (and longer) without All-Star-caliber players Darius Garland and Evan Mobley. Neither is expected back Wednesday. It's the teams longest winning streak since it won eight straight last season.
During the current run, the Cavs are winning by an average of 22.5 points per game and have allowed fewer than 100 points in four straight. The Cavs have trailed for just 35 seconds over their last five games. They rank second in the NBA overall in scoring defense at 109.7 PPG.
The Bucks and Cavs have split two meetings this season in Cleveland, playing there last Wednesday. The Cavaliers claimed a 135-95 win. Antetokounmpo didn't play. Cleveland jumped out to a 22-2 lead and never looked back.
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