This is not new, it’s been the buzz from sources around the league for most of this season and been reported before: If the Milwaukee Bucks fall flat in the playoffs, Mike Budenholzer will be fired.
Consider this an update and emphasis on the theme, via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN on his podcast, The Woj Pod (hat tip Real GM).
“If Game 3 was the apex of this series for them, I think it’s very unlikely and very difficult for them to keep Bud. He has a year left on his deal. They could have extended him early in the season or in the offseason. They chose not to. They were going to really ride this year out.
“I don’t know if he has to come back and win it… If it ends in a thud, it’s hard to imagine he’s back.”
Against the Nets, the Bucks have trended toward ending with a thud.
Milwaukee won an ugly Game 3, 86-83, barely beating Brooklyn on the worst shooting night reasonably imaginable for the Nets. Kevin Durant was 11-of-28 and he was the best Net, while Joe Harris was 1-of-11 (missing some wide-open looks), and as a team the Nets shot 8-of-32 from three. This wasn’t about the Bucks returning to their traditional drop-coverage pick-and-roll defense — although Brook Lopez was fantastic in that role — it was about Nets players missing shots they normally hit. It was just one of those nights, and still, the Bucks barely won.
That victory does give the Bucks hope in the series, down 2-1, but unless their play improves dramatically it’s hard to see how Milwaukee comes back in this series. Brooklyn isn’t going to continue to shoot like that.
And if the Bucks can’t turn it around, look for Milwaukee management to shake up things by bringing in a new coach.