Doc Rivers may be a great coach - just not in the big moments | No Cap Room

Yahoo Sports NBA writer Dan Devine is joined by Patrick Redford of Defector to discuss the Bucks head coach’s early impact in Milwaukee, JJ Redick’s recent comments about him and how Giannis Antetokounmpo views it all. Hear the full conversation on “No Cap Room” - part of the “Ball Don’t Lie” podcast - and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen.

Video Transcript

PATRICK REDFORD: I think I'm sort of a Doc apologist as a coach.

DAN DEVINE: Talk to me about why. Because he like-- I feel like people talk so much about what Doc is and isn't. Where do you land on the Doc Rivers evaluation?

PATRICK REDFORD: So Bomani Jones made this point yesterday. And Doc's teams never quit on him. They choke a lot, but that's different than quitting. And I think you could point to, OK, last year with the Sixers, did they quit on him in that game 7? And I think the game 6 loss when they just scored like 12 points in the fourth quarter or something at home, that's the flaw with Doc's game plans and stuff is he's not the most nuanced tactician.

But guys always play hard for him. I feel like he's good at managing star egos and getting sort of complicated pieces to fit chemistry-wise together. And I guess the larger order take here is that coaching only matters to a certain degree and, ultimately, it's the players that do the thing. And he puts the players in the best headspace to succeed.

Perhaps that's undercut by all the 3-1 leads that his teams have blown, but I just sort of feel like he gives you a baseline of reliability. And he won't, on his own, screw things up. And the thing about the Redick-- the JJ Redick rant is Doc has been fired for the right reasons three times, which to me, is being held accountable for his team's failures. There's a long record of that. I just think he does a pretty good job of putting people in the right positions, just not always in the highest leverage moments.

DAN DEVINE: A completely fair read on it. I think Doc does himself no favors by how frequently he, after the fact, leaves tread marks on his star players' backs or on someone else's, putting the gun in somebody else's hand always and saying that's the reason things sort of fell apart as opposed to any failing that I might have had. But you're absolutely right. Generally speaking, the degree to which the coach of the Milwaukee Bucks matters matters because it gets Giannis Antetokounmpo fully on board and doing-- engaged.

And in that interview with Eric Nehm, Giannis was like, Griff was doing a great job, but also, he's won 30 games and Doc has won like 1,100. And so if that is something he feels more comfortable with and more confident in. Giannis is playing maybe the best basketball he has ever played in a career that has already seen two MVPs and a Finals MVP and whatever else. Then that is what gives you the hope and the puncher's chance over and above anything else.