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."

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