NBA

'I didn't even hear it' – Rivers laughs off hostile 76ers reception after big Bucks win

By Sports Desk February 26, 2024

The Philadelphia 76ers supporters may have jeered Doc Rivers, but the Milwaukee Bucks coach took the hostile reception in his stride as his new team won big on Sunday.

Rivers was dismissed by the Sixers eight months ago following a disappointing end to a season in which Joel Embiid was named the NBA's MVP.

Yet Rivers came out smiling after his return to Philadelphia on Sunday, with the Bucks having run out 119-98 victors.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (30) and Damian Lillard (24) combined for 54 points as the Bucks followed up their win over the Minnesota Timberwolves with a statement victory over a rival in the East.

And while Rivers received a frosty reception, he was all smiles after the game.

"I didn't even hear it, to be honest. That means I was back at home," he quipped.

"It was awesome. Really. I had three good years here, not talking about basketball, just in life. I enjoyed my stay here and made friends for life here.

"The fans were good, too. There were a couple of hilarious comments. One guy told me that Larry David was looking for me to golf. I thought that was pretty funny."

Reflecting on his tenure in charge of the Sixers, Rivers added: "I'm happy with it overall, I just wish we could've gone further.

"I wish we could have had a chance to have Joel healthy in the playoffs.

"But overall, Joel became an MVP, and we established this team as a championship contender. That wasn't said the year before.

"You think about it, we had the James Harden trade, the Ben [Simmons] stuff. Some was under my control, some was out of my control, but overall, for me, if you don't win a title, you're never exactly happy. That's why we all do this."

The Bucks are 5-7 under Rivers, who replaced Adrian Griffin in January. Antetokounmpo, though, is relishing the challenge under his new coach.

"I love him," Antetokounmpo said. "It's been incredible playing for him. He just explains to me, what he wants from me.

"You respect him because he's been 25 years in the league. You've got to respect what he's done in the league, won a championship, won a lot of games, but when he comes in the locker room, he keeps it simple."

The Bucks are third in the East, four wins ahead of the 76ers with a 37-21 record.

"I thought we were consistent," Lillard said. "We got into the paint, we were willing to make the extra pass to find the open guy and we got quality looks.

"To play good offense you find quality shots and have a lot of mix. I thought that’s what we did."

Rivers added: "We had been putting such an emphasis on defense.

"The last few games we’ve been terrific. When you have Giannis on your team, if you can get stops and get him in transition, Giannis in transition is a problem for everybody."

Related items

  • 'A hell of a series' – Malone, LeBron looking forward as Nuggets beat Lakers in Game 1 'A hell of a series' – Malone, LeBron looking forward as Nuggets beat Lakers in Game 1

    Michael Malone believes the Denver Nuggets face "a hell of a series" against the Los Angeles Lakers, with LeBron James pledging to improve after his team were beaten in Game 1 on Saturday.

    The Nuggets and the Lakers faced off in the Western Conference finals last season, and they were reunited for Game 1 of this year's first-round series at Ball Arena on Saturday.

    It's advantage Denver after Nikola Jokic had 32 points and 12 rebounds in a 114-103 win over Los Angeles, their ninth victory in the teams' last nine head-to-head meetings.

    The reigning NBA champions were made to work for their success, though, having gone into halftime down 60-57, with James scoring 19 first-half points. 

    However, the NBA's all-time leading scorer was limited to just eight second-half points and didn't attempt a shot in the fourth quarter until the final 80 seconds.

    Though the Lakers ultimately ran out of steam, Denver coach Malone expects another tough test when the teams reconvene for Game 2 on Monday.

    "We're not going anywhere," Malone said. "This is the playoffs. No team in the playoffs, if you get down 12 early, you're not going to just take your ball and go home. 

    "We still have plenty of fight left in us and we know that we are better than what we were playing early.

    "That's a good team over there. They came into the playoffs playing extremely well, and they showed it. 

    "LeBron was on course, I thought he was about to have 50 points tonight, the way he was playing and shooting the ball.

    "We've got to watch the film to see what we can do better. This is going to be a hell of a series."

    James' 27 points came in support of Anthony Davis, who had 32, while the Nuggets had two other players match Jokic's double-double, with Jamal Murray tallying 22 points and 10 assists and Aaron Gordon adding 12 points and 11 rebounds.

    James, who is appearing in the playoffs for the 17th time in 21 seasons, says the team won't get too low with plenty of time remaining to rescue the series. 

    "I thought we played some good ball tonight, just could have been better," he said. "You don't have much room for error versus Denver, especially on their home floor.

    "They're just a team that's been through everything. Obviously, they're the defending champions, so you've got to execute, you've got to make shots, you've got to defend.

    "I don't ever get into the 'here we go again' mindset. It's one game, they protected their home court. We have another opportunity on Monday to come back and be better."

  • NBA: Jokic leads Nuggets; Knicks, Cavs, Wolves get Game 1 wins NBA: Jokic leads Nuggets; Knicks, Cavs, Wolves get Game 1 wins

    Nikola Jokić had 32 points and 12 rebounds and got ample help from his teammates as the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets continued their recent mastery of the Los Angeles Lakers with a 114-103 win in their Western Conference playoff opener on Saturday.

    Jamal Murray tallied 22 points and 10 assists, Aaron Gordon added 12 and 11 rebounds and Michael Porter Jr. contributed 19 points and eight boards as the Nuggets won their ninth straight against the Lakers.

    Anthony Davis matched Jokic with 32 points and 14 rebounds and LeBron James scored 27 points, but D’Angelo Russell was held to 13 points on 6-of-20 shooting – including 1 of 9 from 3-point range – and Rui Hachimura managed just seven points in 31 minutes.

    Los Angeles hasn’t beaten Denver since Dec. 16, 2022, and will try again Monday in Denver, where the Nuggets are 34-8 this season.

    Denver’s lead was down to 103-96 with five minutes left but Porter Jr. hit a 3 and Jokic dunked off a turnover by James to push the lead to 12.

      

    Knicks’ reserves step up in win

    Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart each scored 22 points and the New York Knicks got a huge lift from their bench for a 111-104 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.

    Deuce McBride outscored the 76ers by himself with 13 points in the second quarter and finished with 21 on 7-of-12 shooting, including 5 of 7 from long range. Bojan Bogdanovic added 13 points and Mitchell Robinson came off the bench to add eight points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.

    Joel Embiid had 29 points, eight rebounds and six assists and Tyrese Maxey scored 33 points for the 76ers, who will try to even the series in Game 2 on Monday.

    Embiid was listed as questionable to play and went down with 2:49 left in the first half with an apparent injury to his surgically repaired knee. He walked to the locker room area and missed the rest of the first half but returned to start the second.

    Hart made a pair of huge 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, the second extending the Knicks’ lead to 107-100 with one minute remaining.

     

    Edwards powers Timberwolves past Suns

    Anthony Edwards scored 18 of his 33 points in the third quarter and grabbed nine rebounds to lift the Minnesota Timberwolves to a tone-setting 120-95 win over the visiting Phoenix Suns in their series opener.

    Karl-Anthony Towns had 19 points, Nickeil Alexander-Walker added 18 and Rudy Gobert tallied 14 points, 16 rebounds and stellar defence to help Minnesota to its first home win in the playoffs in 20 years.

    Edwards keyed a 19-4 run to close the third quarter for a 20-point cushion and put a bow on his performance by stealing the ball from Kevin Durant and finishing with a slam on the other end to give the Timberwolves a 111-91 lead with 3:37 left.

    Durant scored 31 points on 11-of-17 shooting, but Devin Booker was held to 18 on 5 for 16 from the field. The Suns were outrebounded 52-28 and outscored 52-34 in the paint.

    Game 2 is in Minnesota on Tuesday before the best-of-seven series shifts to Phoenix for Game 3.

     

  • Adebayo the 'inspiration' for Heat, says Spoelstra Adebayo the 'inspiration' for Heat, says Spoelstra

    Erik Spoelstra singled out Bam Adebayo for an "inspiring" performance after the Miami Heat defeated the Chicago Bulls to clinch the last spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

    The Heat went all the way to the NBA Finals last season, ultimately losing to the Denver Nuggets, after securing the No.8 seed.

    And they will be seeded eighth once again for their playoff campaign, which they will kick-off against the Boston Celtics, who the Heat defeated in the Conference finals last season.

    Jimmy Butler could not feature against the Bulls on Friday due to injury, but Adebayo stepped up with 13 points while also marking Bulls star DeMar De Rozan.

    "What we needed, what we felt like, was inspiration," Spoelstra told ESPN.

    "And Bam was our most inspiring player, especially with Jimmy being out. The two of them are our most inspiring players. And they've always been.

    "When they're locked in at their highest level competitively, we feel like we can beat anybody. With Jimmy out, I had to.

    "We felt like DeRozan is a guy who can totally take over a game in a one-game deal. If our most inspiring player has to make an impact, it would be against their best scorer."

    Butler is unlikely to feature at all against the Celtics, either, though Spoelstra has not yet paid mind to how he will look to keep the likes of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown under wraps.

    "I haven't even thought about that," Spoelstra said.

    "This was for this kind of deal, to set the tone for the game, to help alleviate any stress or pressure from anyone else in the locker room, Bam had to be that, which he was."

    Looking ahead to the Celtics series, Adebayo said: "It's going to be a dogfight. It's going to be a battle. It's going to be in the mud.

    "It's not going to be pretty basketball. That's usually how it is when we play that team."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.