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MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Bucks stunned the sports world on Tuesday by firing first-year head coach Adrian Griffin despite boasting a 30-13 record (.698 winning percentage) that was good for second place in the Eastern Conference. Less than 24 hours later, they replaced him with Doc Rivers, who boasts over two decades of head coaching experience. 

While the timing of the decision remains surprising, the fact that the Bucks' front office ultimately arrived at this point is not. Over the past few months there have been numerous signs, some more obvious than others, that Griffin and his players were not on the same page. 

Griffin's inability to ever gain the full trust of his star players led general manager Jon Horst and Co. to conclude that he wasn't the right man for the job, regardless of what the record said. As the Bucks prepare to forge a new path forward with Rivers, here's a look back at how they got to this point. 

1. Stotts steps down

The first warning sign came less than two weeks before opening night when veteran coach Terry Stotts stepped down from his role as an assistant coach. Stotts, who had been hired due to his experience and offensive genius, decided to call it quits after an incident at shootaround prior to a preseason game vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder

Per The Athletic, Griffin asked the coaches to meet by themselves while the players did individual shooting. Stotts began speaking with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard first, and when he asked for more time with the stars, Griffin yellled at him in front of the entire team. 

Stotts and Griffin already had a tenuous relationship, and that was the final straw. 

2. A trip to the whiteboard

In the second game of the season, the Bucks were embarrassed by the Atlanta Hawks, who did whatever they wanted all night long in a 127-110 win. Afterward, Antetokounmpo was searching for answers in an unusual fashion

While reporters were talking to Lillard during media availability, Antetokounmpo made his way to the giant whiteboard that takes up nearly an entire wall of the Bucks' locker room and began diagramming plays with assistant coach Josh Oppenheimer. Antetokounmpo was more inquisitive than anything, but it was strange to see a star player make such a public show of distrust in the team's system. 

3. An intervention

The first week of the season was a mess. Griffin's extremely aggressive defensive scheme was getting shredded left and right, and the Bucks were 2-2. After giving up 130 points to the rebuilding Toronto Raptors, the Bucks' veterans had enough and held an intervention to get Griffin to change his tactics

They got their wish ahead of a matchup with the New York Knicks, which they won in large part due to a career-high-tying nine blocks from Brook Lopez

"Sometimes as coaches we are too smart for our own selves," Griffin said. "[A] couple players came to me -- I won't disclose -- but they wanted Brook deeper in the drop and I was smart enough to listen to them. It paid off tonight.

"As a [former] player, it helps me relate to the players because the players are in the trenches. We watch it on film, but they live it. The players aren't always correct with their assessment, but I think it's wise to at least listen to them." 

4. Antetokounmpo and Griffin argue at the scorer's table

The Bucks' first matchup with the Boston Celtics on Nov. 22 did not go well. Though a late comeback made the final score respectable, they never led and trailed by double digits for a majority of the night. At one point in the third quarter, Antetokounmpo was subbed out of the game and decided to sit down on the scorer's table rather than head to the bench. After a contentious conversation with Griffin in full view of the entire arena, the two-time MVP checked back into the game. 

Griffin brushed off the incident post-game

"He wanted to stay in, I wanted to give him a breather. That's all it was," Griffin said. "And then I told him to stay at the table for one possession, and he got right back out there."

Antetokounmpo refused to discuss it. 

5. Giannis plays coach vs. the Heat

In late November the Bucks traveled to South Beach to take on the Miami Heat and got locked into a battle that went down to the wire. Khris Middleton played hero that night, scoring on back-to-back possessions in the final minutes that put the Bucks in front for good. 

After the game, Griffin revealed that he had planned to go to Lillard down the stretch, but Antetokounmpo audibled in the huddle and told him to get Middleton involved instead. 

"Down the stretch, I was looking at Dame hit a couple of big 3s and I was trying to get a play for him again, and Giannis was like, 'Hey, we gotta go to Khris,'" Griffin said. "And they're like twins. They read each other and they have such great chemistry, and he was right. Khris down the stretch, man, really took this home."

6. To foul or not to foul

Immediately following the narrow win over the Heat, the Bucks traveled to Chicago to take on a short-handed Bulls team that was struggling mightily at the time. Despite trailing by double digits in the fourth quarter, the Bucks stormed back to take a three-point lead in the closing seconds, only to see Alex Caruso send the game to overtime with a 3-pointer at the buzzer in regulation. The Bucks then fell apart in the extra frame 

Post-game, Antetokounmpo lamented the team's lack of effort. "We cannot rely on our talent every time, you know?" Antetokounmpo said. "I think we were just playing with the game. Sometimes when you play with the game, you lose."

That wasn't the only problem. There was also confusion about whether or not they should have fouled with a three-point lead to prevent the Bulls from even getting off a potential game-tying shot. 

"Ideally, my philosophy is around that five-second mark, what I told the team was if they catch it with their back toward the basket, foul," Griffin said. "They caught it a little further out and that's probably on me. We should have just fouled if they caught it that far out as well and not given them an opportunity to tie the game. When you get to that five second and under, it's a little more tricky because you don't want to foul them in the act of shooting as well.

"So, that was kind of right there at the cutoff point, but again, that was on me. We had an opportunity to foul. It did present itself. I didn't know if it would present itself or not, but the rule, and what I told them, if they catch it with their back toward the basket, that's the general rule to foul. We did have an opportunity, it seemed like. I have to go back and watch the film as well, but we probably had an opportunity to foul there."

Here's Lopez:

"I definitely had an opportunity (to foul)," Lopez said. "I could have fouled [Nikola Vucevic], I didn't. [Caruso] made a good play. It was definitely an option.

"Within the 3(-point line), Outside the three was a little different, but I should've just made a heads-up play. That's something that I have enough experience to know."

And Malik Beasley: "The read is we should've fouled I think, personally. We had talked about it, but only if his back was to the basket. But, that's a tough shot. Honestly, I think we should've just fouled. That's us on players to understand that and especially when Vucevic had his back turned, we could've fouled."

7. The In-Season Tournament meltdown

If the play at the end of the Bulls game was a snapshot the Bucks' lack of cohesion, their meltdown in the semifinals of the In-Season Tournament in Las Vegas was a feature-length film. The Bucks were outscored 15-7 by the Indiana Pacers over the final two minutes and 40 seconds, and made obvious mistakes on both sides of the ball. 

One of the most notable came with just over two minutes to play, when Middleton brought the ball up instead of Lillard, then dribbled around aimlessly before throwing the ball away. The Pacers actually missed the ensuing layup, but no one besides Lillard hustled back on defense, so Buddy Hield was able to convert the put-back. 

Lillard noted that no one knew exactly what was going on with that sequence:

"The play with Khris, he got the ball on the inbound and I was just running up the opposite slot, and you know, we didn't really have a play call," Lillard said. "You know, so I was standing opposite him and I didn't know if he was going to attack or what."

Antetokounmpo was more forceful in his condemnation of the Bucks' play down the stretch. 

"We have to be more organized. We have to know what we are trying to get down the stretch. You know, at the end of the day, like down the stretch, it's about effort, man. It's about effort and attitude, you have to go out there and take it. I feel like the Indiana team, that's what they did. They crashed the board, got defensive rebounds. You know they got to their spots. They played great defense. You know, got deflections. Like at the end of the day, like nothing is going to be given to you in life. Nothing is going to be given to you in an NBA game, and we cannot just expect that to be, we run a play and because we run the play, we are going to score a bucket. Like you've got to execute. You've got to cut hard, screen harder, get open, drive the ball, you know, make something happen.

"You know, we've done that in the past. Today I don't think we did it as well. But at the end of the day, like we have to be better down the stretch. Like we've got to know what we're trying to accomplish down the stretch. I feel like sometimes we weren't on the same page, and it cost us."

That wasn't the end of the drama. Hours later, Chris Haynes reported that Bobby Portis had challenged Griffin and his teammates in the locker room. While Portis admitted that the players needed to do a better job, he also called out the coaching staff for not putting them in a position to succeed. 

8. 'We have to be coached better'

The Bucks did not have a good start to 2024. A loss to the Pacers on New Years Day, in which they gave up a double-digit fourth-quarter lead, kicked off a 1-4 skid. The third of those losses came in Houston, where the Rockets blitzed the Bucks in the first half, prompting Antetokounmpo's harshest words yet

In a lengthy rant, he took shots at everyone -- himself, his teammates, the coaching staff and even the equipment manager -- noting a lack of pride, particularly on the defensive end. He also questioned the team's strategy on that side of the ball. 

"Now, defensively, we have to have a plan," Antetokounmpo said. "What is our strategy? Are we going to give a lot of open 3s? Are we going to let them get in the paint? When they go in the post, are we going to stay with ours and play one-on-one? What is our strategy? Right now, we are giving everything. We are giving everything. We are giving the 3s. We are giving straight-line drives. We are letting guys play in the post and get comfortable. We're giving offensive rebounds.

"And when I say this, this includes me. Always, it starts from me. I'm part of all of that too. We have to be better. Even as a team, we have to figure out what works and create a strategy around things that work. Like sometimes, you cannot stop everything. Sometimes, we're going to play a team that wants to shoot a lot of 3s. We have to send them to the paint. Sometimes, we're going to play teams that want to get to the paint. Everybody, now we got to muck the game up, show help and after that, we play. Sometimes, we play teams that want to crash the offensive rebounds, they want to get a lot of rebounds, we have to come together as a team. We cannot rely on Brook or Bobby. As a team, we have to get back and get rebounds."

He concluded:

"We have to be better. We have to play better. We have to defend better. We have to trust one another better. We have to be coached better... We have four months to get better, so let's see."

9. An ominous laugh

A few nights after the loss to the Rockets, the Bucks were back home to take on the Utah Jazz. Pre-game, Griffin was asked about Antetokounmpo's comments. He offered some cliches about how defense wins championships and being strong on both sides of the ball. 

When pressed specifically about his star's claim that the team needed to "be coached better," Griffin let out a nervous chuckle. 

"I agree," he said, before his team went out and immediately fell behind by 33 points en route to their fourth loss in five games. 

Two weeks later, the front office concurred. The Bucks needed a better coach.