The Milwaukee Bucks flamed out of the 2023 NBA playoffs in spectacular fashion, squandering double-digit leads in the fourth quarter in two consecutive games en route to a five-game series loss to the Miami Heat. While there is definitely plenty of blame to go around the entire Bucks' organization for this colossal collapse, no one was put under fire more intensely than head coach Mike Budenholzer.
However, there seems to be a rational explanation behind the Bucks' head coach shortcomings amidst the Eastern Conference one-seed's inexplicable meltdown.
According to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, Mike Budenholzer confirmed through a Bucks spokesman that one of his three brothers died prior to Game 4 of their first-round series against the Heat. Budenholzer's brother reportedly died as a result of the injuries he sustained in a car accident.
Budenholzer did not reveal the personal tragedy he was dealing with in the middle of the series, perhaps in an attempt to focus his efforts in helping the Bucks win the series. However, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham, who was worked extensively with Budenholzer and the Bucks in the past, divulged this past Friday that Budenholzer was, indeed, dealing with heavy grief.
The Bucks head coach's decision to power through this kind of tragedy is certainly admirable, even if it didn't end well. It also goes to show that it might be best for fans to hold off on their harshest criticisms, some of which may be warranted at the time, since there may be something bigger that's going on behind the scenes.