The Doc Rivers era in Philly has come to where it always goes — a painful end after a disappointing playoff run and final finish, and it’s painful to think back on the years the Sixers wasted under his leadership.
That Rivers was never the right man for the job, and this listless, weak, humiliating end to another promising season is what the Sixers always looked like at the end of a Doc Rivers-coached season.
That was true the day he was hired. That’s certainly true now, after a 112-88 Game 7 blowout at the hands of the Boston Celtics Sunday. A few days ago, I wasn’t kidding when I said the Celtics had Doc Rivers and the Sixers right where they wanted them to go 3-2.
Remember: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. That’s why the Sixers’ decision to hire Rivers in the first place was crazy, and it’s why keeping him now would be even crazier.
It’s time to move on from the mistake they made in hiring him back in 2020.
None of this is new, which makes Philly’s predicament all the more painful and frustrating for its fans. The fact thatNot new. The organization hired him two and a half years ago Before Daryl Morey, the team’s president of basketball operations, hires his boss, meaning the man in charge of basketball operations had to wait several seasons to get his own coach.
Well, wait no more. If the gears in Philly aren’t already shifting toward Doc’s departure, Philadelphia can expect more of the same in the coming years. (Crazy, mind you.)
Those who want these conclusions to be drawn from the results get ready. The statistics are staggering.
Rivers’ teams have taken multiple 3-2 series leads in his career, as they did, again, in this series against the Celtics. Throughout history NBA 13 times it has taken a 3-1 series lead, and Rivers has been on the wrong side of it three times. That doesn’t apply this year, because Rivers’ Sixers went up 3-2, not 3-1, but we’ll get to that.
He is now 6-10 in 7 games, which is quite a loss for a coach NBA History. Ten. This is, clearly, very, very bad.
His teams are now 17-33 in games with a chance to clinch a playoff series, a brutal 34 percent win rate. It was the most loss by a coach in such a situation in NBA history.
At 3-2, Rivers now has a four-game losing streak, and seven of those times his teams were 3-2 or better and couldn’t seal the deal. Even if you try to lose these things many times it’s hard to see how it can happen.
Teams under a lot of pressure often take on the personality and vibe of their head coaches. For Rivers teams, we’ve seen some truly underwhelming moments in these types of games — again, including Sunday.
Joel Embiid was 5 of 18 for 15 points.
James Harden was 3 of 11 for nine points.
The Sixers are shooting 37.3% from the field, a terrible 21.6% on threes, out-rebound, out-hustle and out-work.
Sometimes saying them out loud or writing them down in a paragraph is so obvious, it almost seems insulting to the intelligence of the listeners and readers, but let’s say it again, even if it sounds silly: Doc should not train in reverse. Again this team. Not a minute.
Depending on what Harden does this postseason — or was — here’s a well-made combination for a championship run. Embiid won his first MVP. Harden has shown flashes of greatness mixed with misery in the same chaotic postseason, including this Game 7. PJ Tucker is a legitimate spark if someone like Doc doesn’t mix in other stuff. Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris, with right hands, could be key contributors.
Additionally, Joe Mazzulla, Boston’s new head coach, learned the job and was clearly in over his head early in this series. In Game 6, with Philly at home and one win away from the conference finals, Jayson Tatum went 1-for-14.
It doesn’t matter. The Celtics won anyway.
The Phoenix Suns have inexplicably moved on from Monty Williams, a perfect fit in Philly. Nick Nurse and Mike Budenholzer are on the market, and although they are expected to land in Milwaukee and Phoenix, respectively, those deals have yet to be done.
The Sixers’ hopes ended a few years ago when they first hired Doc Rivers.
While today was a bad day in Philly — a Doc Rivers-level bad — the chance to find a coach who can win a major playoff series this decade could ultimately turn out to be the best thing to happen to the Sixers. A very long time.