NBA regular season

Bucks win first game after surprise coach Griffin sacking; Doc Rivers in line


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Bucks win first game after surprise coach Griffin sacking; Doc Rivers in line

DOMINANT. Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (left) drives for the basket against Cavaliers center Damian Jones.

Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

The Bucks tap champion coach Doc Rivers to replace Adrian Griffin despite their strong start, reportedly as an ‘upgrade’ to give them a ‘better chance to compete for a championship’

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 35 points in a triple-double performance to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 126-116 win over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night, January 24, in their first game after dismissing head coach Adrian Griffin.

The Bucks surprisingly sacked the first-year coach on Tuesday, January 23, despite having the second-best record (31-13) in the Eastern Conference.

Doc Rivers has reached an agreement to become head coach of the Bucks, ESPN reported Wednesday.

Per ESPN sources, Milwaukee fired the 49-year-old Griffin “largely because the organization came to believe they could find an upgrade on the young coach that gave them a better chance to compete for a championship.”

The 62-year-old Rivers coached the Boston Celtics to an NBA championship in 2007-2008 and most recently spent three seasons as coach of the Philadelphia 76ers (2020-2023).

Rivers has a record of 1,097-763 (.590) with the Orlando Magic (1999-2003), Celtics (2004-2013), Los Angeles Clippers (2013-2020), and Sixers.

He was the NBA Coach of the Year in 1999-2000 and ranks ninth on the all-time list for coaching wins. Rivers was an All-Star point guard who played 864 games in the league from 1983-1996.

Seventh Giannis triple-double

Antetokounmpo finished with his seventh triple-double of the season against the Cavs, racking up 18 rebounds and 10 assists. Damian Lillard added 28 points while Khris Middleton scored 24.

Cleveland, which had won eight in a row, was led by Donovan Mitchell, who scored 23 points but shot 10-of-24. Jarrett Allen added 21 and 12 rebounds.

It was a tight game throughout the first half, with Milwaukee going into the second quarter up just 32-28. The Bucks held a 61-51 lead at halftime.

Antetokounmpo had 15 points and 7 rebounds at intermission. 

Sam Merrill led Cleveland with 9 points, making three consecutive three-pointers in the second quarter.

Milwaukee pulled away in the third quarter. An 8-2 run gave Milwaukee a 77-62 lead with 6:52 left in the third and they eventually led by as many as 21 points.

The Cavs went on a late third-quarter run to cut the deficit to 87-77 with 1:27 left but Lillard knocked down a deep three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Bucks a 93-79 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

But Cleveland didn’t go away easily. The Cavaliers cut the deficit to 108-100 after Mitchell, who scored 16 points in the second half, hit a free throw with 5:41 left.

But the Bucks responded as Antetokounmpo found Malik Beasley for a three-pointer to put Milwaukee up 126-111 with 1:23 left.

Milwaukee improved to 2-1 this season against Cleveland and got a bit of revenge after the Bucks lost 135-95 to the Cavs last week. Milwaukee can win the season series when the teams face off again on Friday in Milwaukee. –

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