The Milwaukee Bucks had the NBA’s best record in the regular season, going 58-24 and earning the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, the team then lost to eighth seed Miami Heat in five games in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs. It was the third time in five seasons under head coach Mike Budenholzer that the Bucks finished with the top record in the East but failed to advance to the NBA Finals. For this latest disappointment, the Bucks have made the decision to move on from the head coach that led Milwaukee to their first NBA title in 50 years.
BREAKING: The Milwaukee Bucks dismissed coach Mike Budenholzer, sources tell ESPN. Budenholzer is out after the East’s top-seed suffered a first-round loss to the Miami Heat. pic.twitter.com/wQp0Zk3lxi
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 4, 2023
Despite Disappointments, Mike Budenholzer Changed the Milwaukee Bucks for the Better
While there are many fans who are celebrating right now, we must keep in mind a few things. Coach Bud is a human being, a man who lost his brother in a tragic car accident during the Miami Heat series. While this loss does not affect the decision to move on from him, it is important for us all, as fellow human beings, to be empathetic.
It is also important to note the culture change Coach Budenholzer brought to Milwaukee. When he was hired by the Bucks in 2018, he took over a team that had become a perennial underachiever in the regular season. The dangerous coaching tactics of former head coach Jason Kidd drove one player to retirement and caused major issues within the Bucks’ locker room.
When Coach Bud took over, the Bucks were coming off a 44-38 season which saw Kidd fired after 45 games. The team finished seventh in the East, but were quickly eliminated from the Playoffs. The very next year, Coach Budenholzer led Milwaukee to a 60-22 record, the top seed in the East. During his time as head coach, the Bucks finished with at least 51 wins four times. The only season in which they did not was the COVID-shortened 2019-2020 season when they finished 46-26.
In short, the Bucks were contenders under Mike Budenholzer. No, they rarely achieved what they could have. What ended up as one NBA title probably should have been more. There is no excuse for the inability to adjust within games or from game to game in a playoff series.
However, let us not forget that Coach Bud got us to the point where we expected to win it all every year. For that, we can be grateful, and we also hope his successor builds on these expectations.
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