Doc Rivers takes coaching charge in Philadelphia
There was talk about Mike D’antoni and a whole new offensive system. There was talk about Ty Lue and his relationship with superstars. But ultimately, it will be Doc Rivers. The Philadelphia 76ers have inked a five year deal with Doc Rivers who will serve as the team’s new head coach. It took almost no time at all for Doc to land another primetime gig after being unceremoniously fired subsequent to the Clippers blowing a 3-1 lead and losing to the Denver Nuggets in the western conference semifinals of this year’s NBA playoffs.
The transition Rivers will make from west coast to east coast will actually be a return of sorts for the coach. He will once again be operating in the Atlantic division, only this time the Boston Celtics, the team he coached to a championship in 2008, will not only be an opponent but one of his team’s principal rivals.
A second familiar piece for Rivers will be forward Tobias Harris, who he coached during the early 2019 season to great success. Harris posted incredible numbers while serving as a point-forward hybrid and averaged 21 points on 50% shooting from the field and 43% shooting from three point range during that season playing for Doc. One hope for the Sixers is that Doc can unlock the full potential of Harris, who has largely been a disappointment since coming to Philadelphia. While it is unreasonable to think that his statistics will be anything close to what they were in Los Angeles (his usage rate shrinks besides all stars Simmons and Embiid), it is the efficiency metrics that will matter more for this team going forward.
Doc Rivers will succeed Brett Brown who coached the team for seven years and never achieved the level of playoff success expected by the organization. No one can doubt that Rivers is a winning coach, having posted a 356-208 record with the Clippers (63.1% of their regular season games). But winning in the regular season won’t be enough for a team with sky high expectations like the Sixers. The playoffs have been an entirely different story for Doc, and usually not a happy one. He has gone 3-8 in potential playoff series-clinching games, most recently evidenced by the complete collapse of a Clippers team who were beyond loaded on paper.
Despite the lack of recent playoff success, there really isn’t a coach more qualified to take the reins of the Sixers. Every fan knows exactly what Doc Rivers’ top priority is with the team: Make Simmons and Embiid work together. Rivers has now had ample experience coaching multiple superstars on three different teams with Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett/Ray Allen in Boston, Chris Paul/Blake Griffin in Los Angeles, and Kwahi Leonard/Paul George this past season with the Clippers. Elton Brand and the Sixers are trusting the veteran coach to work his magic with these younger unicorns, with talents much less traditional than the aforementioned elite players.
Don’t let the five year duration of the signing fool you. Coach Doc Rivers is on the clock now and he expects the very best from this Philadelphia team.