Doc Rivers on coaching the Bucks: ‘You gotta fear the deer’

It hasn’t been very long since we last saw Doc Rivers. Maybe only about a week if you watch NBA games on ESPN.Doc Rivers

Rivers, of course, was in his first season as an in-game analyst for the network. That season lasted about 15 weeks.

Now, he’s the new head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, who fired first-year man Adrian Griffin last week. At the time, the Bucks were 30-13. They’ve split two games against the Cleveland Cavaliers since, with Joe Prunty serving as interim coach.

So Rivers is taking over a 31-14 with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard and some serious championship aspirations. Rivers has a championship ring, winning it all with the Boston Celtics in 2008.

But those were the glory days. Most people know Rivers as the man who couldn’t get the Philadelphia 76ers over the hump and was fired at the end of last season. Fair to be known that way or not, that was Rivers’ last go-round.

He again is in a title-or-bust situation.

“I’ve never done this,” he told reporters of taking over midseason. “I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. It’s going to be a challenge.”

Rivers, 62, will be coaching his first game with the Bucks for Monday’s home game against the New Orleans Pelicans.

“It’s great to be back. It took me a while,” he said. “Personally, for me, being back here is a dream.

“You see the talent, obviously. I’ve coached against the talent…From afar, you think we’ve gotta connect this.”

Along with the Celtics and Sixers, Rivers has spent time as head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers and Orlando Magic. He was the point guard on those 1980s Atlanta Hawks teams that featured Dominique Wilkins and coach Mike Fratello.

Overall, Rivers sports a head-coaching record of 1,097-763 in 24 seasons.

“We just have to find our identity,” he said of the Bucks. “If you’re going to have Fear the Deer (as the team motto), you gotta fear the deer.”

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