Late last month, the Milwaukee Bucks made the surprising decision to fire coach Adrian Griffin despite the team’s 30-13 start to the 2023-24 season.
Veteran coach Doc Rivers was hired as Griffin’s replacement.
The Bucks’ ownership and fan base have championship expectations this season. But Rivers, who won an NBA title as head coach of the Boston Celtics in 2008, has fallen short of expectations — at least through his first six games with the Bucks.
Milwaukee dropped to 1-5 under Rivers with Thursday night’s 129-105 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The lopsided defeat allowed some of the Bucks’ bench players to see action in the fourth quarter, including reserve forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo.
Thanasis has been with the Bucks since 2019, playing alongside his younger brother, two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
As the elder Antetokounmpo stood next to the scorer’s table waiting to check into Thursday’s game, Timberwolves announcer Jim Petersen declared the Bucks were essentially forfeiting any comeback attempt.
“The white flag is being waved,” said Petersen.
“Why do you say that, Jim Pete?” Timberwolves play-by-play announcer Michael Grady asked.
“Because Thanasis is getting ready to come into the game,” Petersen replied. Milwaukee was trailing the Timberwolves by more than 20 points at the time of Antetokounmpo’s substitution.
The Bucks were shorthanded in the game against Minnesota, and star guard Damian Lillard and three-time All-Star Khris Middleton both sat out.
Thanasis finished the game with two points during his five minutes. The New York Knicks drafted Thanasis in the second round in 2014. He is averaging just over four minutes per game this season in 20 games.
The win over the Bucks improved the Timberwolves to 36-16. As of Friday, Minnesota is in a first-place tie in the Western Conference standings with the defending champion Denver Nuggets.