There is no doubt Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the best NBA players on the planet right now, so there was no way he was going to take the fall for the Bucks’ embarrassing first-round exit at the hands of eighth-seeded Miami.
Mike Budenholzer was sensationally fired this week after it was revealed his brother suddenly died right before Game 4. It seems he was going to be shown the door anyway, but the optics don’t look very good for the Bucks franchise.
Fox Sports host Colin Cowherd believes that because Giannis is such a great player, that he was a major factor that played into Budenholzer’s sacking.
“The reason Budenholzer was fired is Giannis because when you have Giannis, you can’t get rolled in a series when you’re a favorite and get outcoached,” Cowherd said. “… The better the stars, the higher the expectations. … That’s the downside of to having a transcendent, generational superstar player. You can’t give away games.”
Cowherd also pointed out that NBA coaching is “the worst great job in America” whereby you get paid millions but there is hardly any room for error, especially when you’re coaching a two-time MVP.
Budenholzer’s poor decision making was on full display in the postseason, especially in games four and five, where he decided not to call timeouts during crucial moments, which ultimately cost Milwaukee the victories.
He also didn’t make adjustments to guard Heat forward Jimmy Butler appropriately, who was in blistering form.
Antetokounmpo alluded to all of this following Butler’s 56-point game that allowed Heat to go up 3-1 in the series.
“Out of respect, you’ve got to let the coach make the adjustment,” Giannis said after Game 4. “At the end of the day, I wish I could’ve guarded [Butler] more.
“I don’t know, double-team him more, try to make him pass the ball. Maybe switch the matchup for a little bit, give Jrue [Holiday] a break. I don’t think as a team we made the right [adjustment] or we didn’t make as many adjustments as we could have against him.”
These comments have become particularly interesting in light of recent events, which makes you wonder whether Giannis really did have a hand in the Bucks relieving Budenholzer of his coaching duties.
It would undoubtedly make the situation even harder to swallow for Budenholzer because Giannis was injured and missed games two and three of the series.
He hurt his back in Game 1, so if Milwaukee did have a healthy six-time All-Star on the court for the entire series, there could have been a totally different outcome.