Bucks fires head coach Mike Budenholzer after first-round playoff loss to Heat

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By Webdesk

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The Milwaukee Bucks fired head coach Mike Budenholzer from the team announced Thursday. The decision follows Milwaukee’s embarrassing first-round loss to the Miami Heat. Milwaukee, the No. 1 overall in the NBA playoffs, became the first No. 1 since the first round went to a seven-game format and was eliminated in five or fewer games. The Bucks blew double-digit fourth-quarter leads in both Game 4 and 5 of their first-round run against the Heat. They were the sixth No. 1 seed to lose a first-round series in NBA history.

Budenholzer took over the Bucks for the 2018–19 season, and he immediately turned them into championship contenders. The Bucks were a No. 8 seed the year before he arrived, under previous head coach Jason Kidd. They jumped straight to No. 1 in its first season, where they remained in its second. The Bucks won the championship in 2021, Budenholzer’s third season, and might have won again last season if Khris Middleton had stayed healthy in the playoffs. Instead, the Bucks moved on after five years with Budenholzer at the helm.

Budenholzer is widely credited with creating the system that helped make the Bucks perennial contenders, an extension of his successful run as head coach of the Atlanta Hawks in the mid-2010s. When Milwaukee hired him, he prioritized 3-point shooting shoot to properly distribute the floor around Giannis Antetokounmpo. The result was two MVP awards. He also instituted the drop-coverage schedule that made the Bucks one of the most consistently strong defensive teams in basketball, and in the process nearly turned Brook Lopez into a Defensive Player of the Year.

However, that plan turned out to be a double-edged sword. Budenholzer has been widely criticized for his inability to adapt in the postseason. Jimmy Butler broke up their drop coverage in the first round and other opposing stars have done the same over the years. Further, Budenholzer’s decision not to call timeouts at the end of regulation or overtime in Milwaukee’s season-ending loss to the Heat was ridiculed for preventing the Bucks from posting potential result-changing shots.

Many in the NBA expected Budenholzer to be fired if Milwaukee fell short in the 2021 playoffs when they eventually won the title. Rick Carlisle was rumored to be his replacement, but as soon as the Bucks survived their second-round encounter with the Brooklyn Nets, Carlisle took over the Indiana Pacers. A few weeks later, the Bucks were champions.

But with Milwaukee’s roster aging and a historic first-round loss in the rearview mirror, the Bucks have decided to make a change. Budenholzer has officially been retired as their head coach and the search to replace him now begins.

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