Giannis Antetokounmpo was encouraged by the Milwaukee Bucks’ first performance under new coach Doc Rivers despite it ending in a 113-107 defeat to the Denver Nuggets.
Rivers made a few tweaks, particularly on defense, which Antetokounmpo feels will take time to sink in but, overall, the two-time NBA MVP felt it was a promising start to the new regime.
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He said: “He [Rivers] was great. Everybody has to have patience. It’s new – the way we play, the way we defend, it’s going to take a while to get used to.
“We’re slowly, slowly adjusting, changing a couple stuff. Coaching staff got to have patience with the players. Players got to have patience with the coaching staff, but I feel like for the first game, it was good.”
Antetokounmpo accepts, however, that the payers need to buy into Rivers’ ideas if they are to have a significant impact.
“At the end of the day, the game plan is one thing, but our effort [has] always got to be there,” he added.
“We have very, very smart players on the team and sometimes when the game plan is not as accurate, sometimes our effort might not be there and that’s not good.
“We cannot just pick and choose. Like, in order for you to win, you have to do it all the time. There’s going to be times that you lose games, but in order for you to win at a high level, there’s got to be a standard. And today, I think we set the standard as a team.”
Antetokounmpo scored 29 points and Damian Lillard added 18 but it wasn’t enough with Jamal Murray pouring in 35 for the Nuggets.
Another double-double for Giannis.
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 30, 2024
Rivers was largely satisfied, particularly with his new team’s defensive display, but is hoping to add some chemistry on offense.
He said: “I told our guys, anyone who told you you couldn’t play defense lied.
“You proved that tonight. You competed tonight. Our half-court defense was excellent. I think tonight was an offensive loss. I didn’t think we were crisp offensively.”