Mike Budenholzer has been on thin ice this season with increased pressure to win after the team acquired Jrue Holiday this offseason. Jake Fischer reported “there continues to be an expectation among league sources” that the third-year Bucks coach will be out if the team doesn’t make it to the NBA Finals. The Bucks skated past a hobbled Nets team to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, but there were glaring coaching deficiencies on Milwaukee’s sideline.
In Game 5, Bud decided to let Kevin Durant cook without doubling him or giving Giannis Antetokounmpo the opportunity to match the greatest one-on-one player in NBA history. Meanwhile, Budenholzer’s stubbornness continues on the offensive end as the Bucks play way too much isolation ball as if Khris Middleton and Holiday are KD.
Even though Budenholzer seems to hide behind the “make or miss league” guise, the Bucks waste way too many possessions. Giannis settling for fadeaway jumpers from the post in the game’s waning minutes is a terrible decision. Bud has to be held accountable as he completely ignored Harden when the Bucks were on offense, and instead, decided to attack Durant. When Giannis finally matched up with Harden, it was the aforementioned post fadeaway, which is ironically where The Beard is best suited as his strength allows him to hold his ground. Regardless, Bud’s job might be safe because KD ran out of gas in overtime of Game 7, but I think that discussion will change if he loses to his former team.
Budenholzer left Atlanta three years ago as the team went head first into a total rebuild, but nobody should really blame him. Given the new heights to which he led the Hawks, he earned the right to coach a contending roster. Budenholzer spent five seasons as the head coach of the Hawks (213-197) and led Atlanta to the Conference Finals in 2015 after 60 regular season wins. There are no hard feelings, but the old saying “what goes around comes around” might hold in this series. This young Hawks team may be slightly naive, but they possess supreme confidence. Even though the Bucks are massive favorites, the Hawks have been in this position the entire postseason. Atlanta has nothing to lose, and that should be scary for Budenholzer and company, who have pushed all their chips in for this season.