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Credit Where Credit Is Due: Doc Rivers Finally Took The Blame For Losing To One Of The Worst Teams In The NBA

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Listen, I am nothing if I am not fair. 

If I'm going to blog all the times Doc Rivers avoids taking responsibility and instead chooses to do things like blaming the travel staff for losses, then I also have to blog when he finally steps up and holds himself accountable.

And sure, maybe the larger issue is the fact that over their last 3 games the Bucks have now lost to the Wizards, Grizzlies, and a Raptors team that had lost 15 games in a row before last night. I suppose at this point Doc's hands were tied when it came to where he could assign blame for this one. You drop a couple of these games here and there, you can deflect. You lose 3 in a row to that group of teams? At that point, deflection is out the window.

At the end of the day, this is April basketball, which on the whole is pretty wacky for a lot of teams in the league. The concerning part of course is this is not just an April basketball issue for the Bucks. They are now 15-16 under Doc. Their offense is down to 17th since he got there, the defense 11th, and the net rating 16th. This is a pretty decent sample size, so it's not as if this is just an end-of-season issue.

What makes it all intriguing is there's a world where none of it matters. The Bucks are still going to enter the playoffs with the expectation that they should win the title. They have two Top 75 players and a healthy Khris Middleton. They made the Dame trade as a win-now move. They fired their coach and hired Doc as a win-now move. The next step is, of course, winning now.

But what we're also seeing is the potential flaw in how their roster is built. They're slow on the perimeter, point of attack defense is still an issue, late game execution is getting worse under Doc, Brook Lopez isn't exactly making the same impact as in previous seasons etc. If the Bucks have to face a team that plays fast, shoots a lot of 3s, and has size, it's a bad matchup for them.

Yet, there are signs of optimism. You shouldn't ignore how successful the Bucks starters have been while sharing the floor together this season. Since Doc's first game, the lineup of Dame/Beasley/Middleton/Giannis/Lopez has a 113.9 ORTG / 98.7 DRTG/+15.1 net in their 109 minutes together. That's nothing to sneeze at and would be comparable to some other top teams' best lineups. The Dame/Giannis P&R is still going to be an issue for teams to defend once things slow down in a playoff series. As we know, the playoffs are ultimately about matchups, and we still aren't quite sure how their path will look. 

At the same time, praying for this sudden flipping of a switch in the playoffs requires a decent amount of copium. While possible, it would require the Bucks to immediately fix problems they haven't been able to fix all year. For example, there's a chance they could drop to 3, which would mean they may not even have homecourt in the 2nd round. For a team that's 18-20 on the road this season, homecourt advantage feels important to a potential deep MIL run. 

The good news is at least now Doc is willing to take responsibility for their dogshit play. That's the first step to potentially turning things around. I can't imagine it's easy to get a locker room to buy into what you're saying if your go to move is to just throw other people under the bus when things go south. It didn't work in LA, it didn't work in PHI, and it's not working so far in MIL. 

It does sort of feel like we may be on a crash course for a MIL/PHI series, and if David Stern were still alive I'm pretty sure he'd rig it to ensure it happened. We'll have to wait and see if Adam Silver has it in him.