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Doc Rivers Throwing The Bucks Travel Crew Under The Bus After Another Bad Loss Is Some Of His Finest Work

Kevin C. Cox. Getty Images.

When you get to late March/early April on the NBA calendar, weird shit can happen from time to time. Some teams are coasting and just trying to make it to the playoffs healthy, other teams are maybe overlooking an opponent, really good teams have random off nights, teams are resting players etc, so it's tough to know how much stock to put into what we see. As someone who roots for a team that just blew a 30 point lead against a team 5 games under .500 which is something that hadn't happened in over 25 years, weird shit happens.

So when you see that last night a Bucks team (with no Dame) lost on the road to a 15-61 Wizards team (with no Kuzma), it's tough to know how much of that is just late season basketball, and how much of it is cause for concern. For a team still in a playoff seeding battle, losses like that should never happen. But hey, everyone gets caught at some point over the course of an 82 game season, but it shouldn't be ignored that the Bucks do have the 2nd most losses against teams under .500 of any top 6 seed in the East (8). Losses like last night to a terrible team have sort of been a trend all season, even with Doc Rivers at the helm.

Now of course, it wouldn't be a bad loss for a Doc Rivers team without his patented move of throwing other people under the bus. For example, the Bucks are a pretty brutal 18-20 on the road this season, and 7-11 on the road under Doc after last night. So what does he do? 

Decides to throw his "travel crew" under the bus 

I'll admit, I don't think I've ever heard someone throwing the travel crew under the bus in an attempt to explain why the players play like shit and the team has a losing record on the road. Don't teams stay at the Ritz in every city or a 5-star hotel of the like? This isn't a team filled with young players who may not fully understand NBA life and what it takes to win on the road. This is one of the oldest teams in the league! What does the travel crew have to do with Giannis committing brutal TOs at the end of last night's loss? Or Brook Lopez finishing the game with only 2 rebounds? Or Beasley going 1-10 from deep?

Not only that, but what does the travel crew have to do with Doc's strategy or making sure his players are prepared and ready to go? Remember when Austin Rivers went on TV and tried to bury JJ Redick for saying his dad doesn't take accountability? Well, did you hear those clips? Everyone is happy after games but Doc! He's the only one upset! It's not his fault!

My guess is this is the kind of shit JJ was talking about, and it's been happening basically since Doc took over in late January after every bad loss.

The big question of course is if any of this matters in the playoffs. 

That's something we can't answer in April of course, and I suppose it depends on what you want to believe in. For example, the Nuggets last season were 19-22 on the road during the regular season, and then had the 2nd most road wins last playoffs (6) on the way to their title. The one thing I will say is that NBA history tells us that to make a deep run or win a title, you have to handle your shit on the road. Just look at the last 4 champs and how they did

- 2023 Nuggets (t-2nd most playoff road wins)

- 2022 Warriors (2nd most playoff road wins)

- 2021 Bucks (t-most playoff road wins)

- 2020 Lakers (2nd most playoff road wins)

To no surprise, even the teams that came up short in either the conference finals or Finals like BOS/MIA were among the top of the playoff field in road wins. 

If you look at how all those teams did on the road during the regular season, you see a similar trend outside of the 2023 Nuggets

- 2023 Nuggets: 19-22

- 2022 Warriors: 22-19

- 2021 Bucks: 20-16

- 2020 Lakers: 27-9 (weird Covid year but you get the idea)

NBA history tells us that winning on the road is pretty important, so when it comes to this Bucks team, while it's possible they can flip the switch on the road like the Nuggets did last year, that's more hoping and dreaming than anything else. 

The issue is more how can they fix a problem if the guy responsible for fixing that problem is too busy blaming the travel crew? What could they possibly change that will suddenly make the Bucks a better road defense? They have the 20th ranked defense on the road this season and the 19th ranked road defense since the All Star break.

In fact, since Doc took over on 1/29 the Bucks are just 15-14 with the 17th ranked offense, 11th ranked defense, and 15th ranked net rating. Is that all on the travel crew as well?

This is partly what is going to make the playoffs so damn exciting. It's just as possible that the Bucks go on a deep run on the backs of their two best players as it is they continue this inconsistency when it matters most. They brought in Doc because they felt they needed to fix their issues, and so far he's done more to deflect responsibility for their inconsistent play than actually change anything. 

Time will tell if it ultimately does them in, but imagine being someone on that travel crew hearing comments like that? That's definitely an interesting way to build a championship culture.