For much of the 2023-24 season, the Milwaukee Bucks' drop-off on the defensive end of the floor has been one of the defining narratives of their season. Trading away Jrue Holiday for Damian Lillard may have been the right call when it comes to convincing Giannis Antetokounmpo that the franchise is willing to do whatever it takes to compete for a championship, but the drop-off in defensive quality at the point of attack, not to mention the presence of inexperienced head coach Adrian Griffin, has made it quite difficult for them to reach their defensive numbers from years past.

However, Griffin is now gone, and in comes veteran head coach Doc Rivers to bring in some sense of stability for a Bucks franchise that underwent plenty of transitions this past offseason. And with that increased stability, comes increased fortitude on the defensive end of the floor, which Lillard gave props to following their epic 113-106 comeback win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night sans Antetokounmpo.

“I think we've simplified a lot of things. We've, I guess, just bought into a lot of the schemes. I don't think that guys weren't bought in but we're seeing that it's working and we're seeing that it fits for us,” Lillard said, per Gabe Stoltz of SB Nation's Brew Hoop.

Beyond the simplification of the team's schemes, the Bucks star point guard appreciated the clarity with which Doc Rivers delivers his message; Rivers, after all, has been part of plenty of locker rooms with contending ambitions, so he knows the drill by now.

“I think he's created an environment where everybody understands. Everything is clear. We walk through it 10, 15 times in practice and then we're able to go out there and execute because of how it's being delivered to us,” Lillard added.

If this isn't an indictment of Adrian Griffin's tenure, then nothing is; Griffin tended to experiment with schemes, and it was rather odd that a blowup during practice caused Terry Stotts, a man familiar with Damian Lillard, to leave the team in the offseason. Doc Rivers may have plenty of detractors, but the Bucks are starting to show signs of life as a genuine contender to win the Larry O'Brien trophy in June.