Why 76ers’ Doc Rivers era must immediately end following the latest postseason collapse
The Doc Rivers era in Philly has arrived at its destination — a painful end after a disappointing playoff run and a conclusion so taken for granted that it’s painful to think about the years the Sixers wasted under his leadership .
That Rivers was never the right person for the job, and that listless, weak, humiliating end to another promising season was what the Sixers would likely always find at the end of a Doc Rivers-managed season.
That was true on the day he was hired. That’s certainly true now after the 112-88 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 7 on Sunday. I wasn’t kidding when I said a few days ago that the Celtics had Doc Rivers and the Sixers right where they wanted them when they were 3-2 down.
Remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. That’s why the Sixers’ decision to hire Rivers in the first place was insane, and that’s why it would be even crazier to keep him now.
It’s time to move on from the mistake they made when they hired him in 2020.
None of this is new, which is what makes Philly’s predicament so painful and so frustrating for his fans. The truth of Doc River’s fallacy is not new. That this organization hired him two and a half years ago Before He hires his boss Daryl Morey, the team’s president of basketball operations, which means the basketball operations manager has had to wait several seasons for a dedicated coach.
Well, you don’t have to wait any longer. If everything in Philly isn’t already gearing up for Doc’s departure, Philadelphia can expect more of the same in the years to come. (Insane, remember.)
Brace yourself for those who want those decisions to be based on results. The stats are stunning.
Rivers’ teams have lost several consecutive 3-2 leads in his career, including this series against the Celtics. In all of NBA history, there have been 13 consecutive gambled 3-1 leads, and Rivers has been on the wrong touchline on three of those. Of course, that’s not true this year, with the Rivers Sixers leading 3-2, not 3-1, but we’ll get to that.
In Game 7, he is now 6-10, easily the largest loss by a coach in NBA history. Ten. This is of course very, very bad.
His teams are now 17-33 in games where they had a chance to win a playoff series, a brutal 34 percent win rate. It is also by far the highest loss for a coach in such a scenario in the history of the NBA.
And as for the 3-2 lead, at that count, Rivers now has four losses in the streak, meaning his teams have led 3-2 or better seven times and still failed to close the deal. It’s hard to imagine how that could happen so often, even when trying to lose those things.
Teams under a lot of pressure often take on the personality and charisma of their head coaches. And for the Rivers teams, we’ve seen some really disappointing moments in games like this, including on Sunday.
Joel Embiid was 5 out of 18 for 15 points.
James Harden was 3 of 11 and scored nine points.
The Sixers had a 37.3% shot rate from the field, a terrific 21.6% on threes, were out rebounds, out coughs, and out worked.
Sometimes things are so obvious it’s almost insulting to the intelligence of those listening and reading to say them out loud or write them in a column, but let’s say it again, even if it’s self-evident to the point of silliness: Doc Rivers should not coach this team again. Not a single minute.
There’s — or there was, depending on what Harden’s doing this postseason — a good mix here for a championship run. Embiid won his first MVP. Harden showed glimpses of greatness mixed with the same bewildering postseason awfulness, also in this Game 7. PJ Tucker is a legitimate spark unless someone like Doc is there to extinguish the rest of the ingredients. Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris can make a significant contribution in the right hands.
Also, early in this series, Joe Mazzulla, Boston’s rookie head coach, was obviously learning on the job and overexerting himself. And in Game 6, with Philly at home and a win away in the Conference Finals, Jayson Tatum started 1 of 14.
Doesn’t matter. The Celtics prevailed anyway.
The Phoenix Suns have inexplicably parted ways with Monty Williams, who would be a perfect Philly fit. Nick Nurse and Mike Budenholzer are also in the market, and while they’re expected to land in Milwaukee and Phoenix, respectively, those deals aren’t finalized yet.
The Sixers’ hopes ended a few years ago when they even hired Doc Rivers.
And while today was a bad day in Philly — bad by the Doc Rivers level — the opportunity to find a coach who can actually win major playoff series this decade could ultimately prove to be the best thing the Sixers have in this year could happen for a very long time.