The Milwaukee Bucks felt the wrath of the NBA's hottest young star in Las Vegas when Tyrese Haliburton led the Indiana Pacers, 128-119, past Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard's squad in the semifinals of the 2023 NBA In-Season Tournament. The Bucks entered Thursday's showdown at the T-Mobile Arena as the favorites to win the inaugural NBA Cup. Yet, Milwaukee did not even reach the championship round, which will now feature Haliburton's Pacers going up against the timeless LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

With a spot in the championship round still hanging in the balance, the young up-and-coming Indiana squad executed down the stretch and went on a 15-7 run to close out the Bucks. Haliburton, as he has been all season, was spectacular. He scored 27 points and put together a passing clinic with 15 assists while committing zero turnovers. He also nailed a dagger three-pointer to put Indiana up by eight with under a minute to go and even brought out the Dame Time celebration to add salt to the Bucks' wounds.

The Pacers certainly deserve credit for overcoming the odds once again and proving that they belong under the bright lights. But the Bucks also deserve flak for failing to execute in a game they should have won. Some drama occurred in the Bucks locker room after the game when Bobby Portis reportedly called out head coach Adrian Griffin for the lack of organization in their offense down the stretch. Antetokounmpo and Lillard shared the same sentiments.

With that said, who is the most to blame for the Bucks following their In-Season Tournament semifinals loss to the Pacers?

Bucks most to blame in In-Season Tournament loss to Pacers: Adrian Griffin

I think we need to share the same sentiments with Portis on this one. This loss was on Adrian Griffin. If your two best players are essentially echoing the same thing, then the blame needs to go to the head coach.

As Portis reportedly acknowledged, the players are the ones ultimately executing on the court. But the coach will need to be the one to provide directions. There seemed to be a lack of communication on Griffin's part on to how they were going to execute down the stretch on Thursday.

One particular play that proved costly for Milwaukee happened after Myles Turner's tip in shot that gave the Pacers a 115-112 cushion with over two minutes remaining in the game.

Khris Middleton dribbled up on the left side the floor, but he didn't seem to have a concrete plan with the ball. Middleton looked over to Damian Lillard, who was on the right side of the court near the half court line, and called him over to get the rock at the center of the floor. Middleton dribbled five more times before throwing a weak pass to Lillard, who did not seem ready to catch the ball. This led to a turnover that sent Indiana in transition. Bruce Brown missed the initial layup try, but Buddy Hield was right there for the follow-up to give the Pacers a five-point lead.

Lillard admitted post-game that he did not know what they were running in that particular play. As the coach, Griffin should have called his point guard aside and gave him instructions on what to run.

Is Adrian Griffin on the hot seat?

Not really. By no means is Griffin on the hot seat just yet. But his seat is already getting warm.

Griffin did also get some flak early in the campaign for his defensive strategies, particularly changing the way Brook Lopez defended in pick-and-roll coverage. They began the season by having Lopez high up, but they reverted back to a drop to maximize Lopez's strengths as their last line of defense.

Nonetheless, this Bucks team is still learning to play with each other. As currently constructed, this team might not be good enough to win a championship, regardless if they have the best duo in the NBA with Antetokounmpo and Lillard.

They still have issues to iron out particularly with the their defense. Their lack of a legitimate point of attack defender is still a glaring concern that they need to address, perhaps through a trade or the buyout market. A Lillard and Malik Beasley backcourt is not going to cut it defensively.

Likewise, they may need some frontcourt help. Portis isn't quite having the same kind of impact he had over the last two seasons and they could use another big body down low to spell some minutes off Lopez, who is already 35 years old.

Though Griffin is to blame for leaving his players $500,000 less richer, he still deserves some leash being a rookie head coach. Unfortunately, the 49-year old's doesn't have that long of a leash since the Bucks have championship aspirations.