The Milwaukee Bucks prematurely made a head-coaching change, swapping Adrian Griffin for Doc Rivers, and so far, the move hasn’t paid off.

Rivers was brought aboard to help achieve two things: 1) help re-establish Milwaukee’s now-deflated defense, and 2) bridge the gap between the Bucks and NBA-best (42-12) Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference. Plain and simple, but much easier than done — as Rivers is quickly finding out.

In just nine games at the helm, Milwaukee’s gone 3-6 under Rivers, falling to third in the East at 35-20. That’s a slot below where the Bucks stood just before parting ways with Griffin, back when they were 33-13 which was tied for the second-best record in the NBA — at that time. Through Milwaukee’s latest cold stretch, the team has lost five times against teams with a worse record, including two against non-contenders.

When looking deeper into the statistical perspective of the underwhelming run, the numbers become even more daunting. Milwaukee has shot 47.3% from the field, which ranks 19th — under Rivers — with a mediocre defensive rating placed 10th (113.6). Neither of those are encouraging signs of a turn in direction for a team with championship-level expectations, especially coming off an offseason in which franchise star Giannis Antetokounmpo threatened to part ways with the organization.

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On Tuesday night, Milwaukee got crushed in a 123-97 loss to the Miami Heat.

The entire Bucks starting lineup finished with a negative plus-minus and combined for 64 points. Antetokounmpo, who led the team with 23 points, also led Milwaukee with a game-high five turnovers. The 97-point total was also the lowest the Bucks have recorded in their last 14 games played.

“As bad as it looked defensively, I thought our offense looked way worse tonight,” Rivers told reporters postgame, per Bally Sports video. “We were shooting 51% at halftime and I thought we were playing just awful offense.”

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Rivers added: “We reverted back tonight defensively. That happens.”

Milwaukee understood its desperate need for a defensive spark, drained by the Jrue Holiday departure, so the front office went out and got reserve unit energizer Patrick Beverley ahead of the trade deadline. But even a veteran on and off-court troll like Beverley can do so much to flip the trajectory in favor of the Bucks.

While all that’s gone down, the Celtics have continued to flourish and build on their record-flirting campaign. Boston defeated the Brooklyn Nets, 118-110, scoring 72 points in the first half to tie a franchise record with now 13 70-plus-point first halves this season. Like Milwaukee, the Celtics also didn’t stand pat at the trade deadline and acquired Xavier Tillman and Jaden Springer to upgrade their depth behind an already dominant core.

Boston’s already benefitted from the Bucks electing to part ways with Holiday, and while still early, the decision to bring Rivers aboard has begun to also fall into that category of inadvertent favors to the Celtics.

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The Bucks are 7 1/2 games behind Boston.

Featured image via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images