MILWAUKEE — When Doc Rivers made his Milwaukee Bucks teaching debut on Jan. 29, he got here away from the sport inspired by the workforce’s defensive effort regardless of a loss on the highway in Denver.
Quick ahead two weeks later and the Bucks put collectively certainly one of their most full wins of the season, a 112-95 rout of the defending champions on Monday evening. It was the second consecutive win for Milwaukee and second consecutive recreation holding an opponent below 100 factors, the primary time the Bucks have pulled that off within the common season since November 2021.
“Guys are simply being on the identical web page,” Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo mentioned after the sport. “Coach Doc is holding us to a excessive commonplace. He needs us to defend. He does not take lack of effort as an excuse. In the event you’re on the ground, you have to do your greatest.”
Two-time MVP Nikola Jokic collected 29 factors, 12 rebounds and eight assists, scoring or aiding on 48 of the Nuggets’ 95 factors, however his effort wasn’t sufficient to beat just a few key accidents. Each Jamal Murray (shin harm) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (proper hamstring tightness) didn’t play within the second half.
Antetokounmpo paced the Bucks with 36 factors and 18 rebounds. He now has 9 profession video games with 30 factors, 15 rebounds and 5 assists whereas taking pictures 70%, tied with Charles Barkley for third most in NBA historical past, in line with analysis by ESPN Stats & Data. They path solely Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Whereas Rivers praised the workforce’s tempo offensively, he was principally inspired to see the protection enhance in a number of the ideas he has aimed to put in since taking the job late final month.
Milwaukee began 1-5 below Rivers, giving up 119.2 factors per recreation in these six contests. However in these back-to-back wins, the Bucks have held opponents to 89.5 factors per recreation.
“Simply regular progress,” Rivers mentioned after Monday’s recreation. “Believing in your D, trusting it, clarifying it — what we need to do … The extra we will get our guys to know precisely what we’re doing, they will play at full velocity. That is what we’re making an attempt to do. Simplify, so we will play with hearth.”
Rivers estimated the teaching workers has spent about 70% of its out there time working with the workforce on protection. And that focus has been about ensuring the workforce is on the correct web page.
“I simply suppose it is the accountability,” Bucks guard Damian Lillard mentioned. “After we’re watching movie, we’re in our conferences, in follow, I feel Doc and our whole workers, they’re doing an amazing job of simply calling all the pieces out. They’re difficult us in a whole lot of alternative ways. Our communication, how bodily we’re, how we feature ourselves as a gaggle.
“Looking for our identification. Who can we need to be. Who’re we going to step like once we get on the ground. And I feel we’re simply having a whole lot of carryover as a result of there’s a lot dialog round it.”