Milwaukee Bucks v Dallas Mavericks
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The Milwaukee Bucks replaced Adrian Griffin with Doc Rivers despite a 30-13 start to their season because they believed a change was needed to meaningfully compete for a championship. The early results have been less than inspiring. On Thursday, Rivers coached his 10th game for the Bucks, and it was perhaps the worst one yet: a loss to the lowly Memphis Grizzlies. With the NBA All-Star break approaching, Rivers didn't mince words after Thursday's defeat. "We had some guys here," Rivers said. "We had some guys in Cabo."

Such comments won't exactly ingratiate Rivers to his new players, especially since he has a bit of history of deflecting blame when things go wrong. Last year, he made waves for saying, in hindsight, that his Clippers team was never going to win a championship because they "just didn't get along well enough as a group," which his former shooting guard, J.J. Redick, took as an opportunity to remind people that Rivers was hired to make sure that they would. In 2022, he gave a lengthy quote in which he attempted to explain each of his three blown 3-1 playoff leads instead of accepting his part of the blame for them.

Rivers inherited a difficult situation. No coach has ever come into an organization from the outside in the middle of a season and gone on to win that season's championship. Those are clearly the expectations in Milwaukee. The offense under Rivers has sputtered due largely to poor shooting luck. Still, the defense has ranked 12th under his stewardship, which is right around where Milwaukee needs to be to contend for the title if its high-powered offense is functioning as expected. The overall picture isn't as bad as the record.

But Rivers was brought in largely because of his experience coaching contenders and to gain the respect of a veteran locker room that clearly struggled with a rookie coach. Old-school coaches like Rivers often try to use the media to hold their players accountable, but accountability is a two-way street. Aside from A.J. Green and Andre Jackson Jr., every player Rivers used on Thursday was a long-time veteran who likely won't appreciate their effort being questioned.

There's still time for the Bucks to get their house in order. At 35-21, they are still the Eastern Conference's No. 3 seed. But the Rivers era isn't off to a great start, and Thursday's loss surely left a sour taste in the team's mouth heading into the break.