Doc Rivers voted Eastern Conference Coach of The Month
After getting his new-look Sixers off to an imperfect but hot start, Doc Rivers was named the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month. The honor comes as no surprise to any Sixers fan, as Doc Rivers has found a way to get the most out of two of his three star players. Spanning every game from the start of the season to the end of January, Doc Rivers was a shoo-in for the win. Let’s take a look at what exactly Doc did to win his twelfth Coach of the Month award.
Stacking Up Wins
Winning. Obviously. Doc has coached the Sixers to a 15-6 record, good for first place in the Eastern Conference. That alone merits consideration for Coach of the Month. It also does not hurt that he is coaching an MVP front-runner in Joel Embiid and a potential All-Star in Tobias Harris. He has also found ways to get Ben Simmons in his comfort zone on defense, which resulted in increased output on the offensive end. Notable wins for the 76ers in this stretch include beating the Lakers, sweeping the Celtics, and FINALLY winning a game without Joel Embiid against the Pacers. Honestly, that one win alone was enough to give Doc the award.
The Sixers have been putting up quality numbers across the board this season. The defense has been a massive strength for this team, as they lead the league in blocks and rank top 5 in steals. This defense generates offense, too, as they have the most fast-break points in the NBA. The 76ers have the highest defensive rating in the Eastern Conference and the third-highest in the NBA.
Player Development & Personnel Management
The Sixers are a resilient squad. Fans were ready to bid a few players goodbye after last season, only for them to become crucial pieces of the rotation under Doc Rivers. Furkan Korkmaz and especially Shake Milton have flourished in Doc’s new offensive system. Shake went from a horrendous stretch in the bubble to Sixth Man of the Year front runner. He’s averaging 14.3 points per game while leading the second unit. Furkan also had himself a game against the Pacers. The Turkish Delight nailed clutch bucket after clutch bucket, ensuring the Sixers a 31-6 run. Tobias Harris is another player many fans wanted to go after last season. The Sixers decided to bring in Doc “The Tobi Whisperer” Rivers, and now those very same people are tweeting #NBAAllstar @tobias31.
His strong leadership is unquestionable as well. When the first COVID outbreak hit the league, and the Sixers were down to seven healthy players, Doc was a total professional. He made some quality jokes to the press about the “Seven Sixers” but never let his team get complacent. He used the opportunity to get the young guys involved, and Tyrese Maxey paid him in full, dropping 39 points in his first NBA start against the Nuggets.
Clutch Decision Making
Doc can close out games. Even though the Sixers blew a lead to the Lakers, Doc drew up a winning play to Tobias Harris. Against the Pacers down the stretch, he boldly switched to a 2-3 zone defense. He smartly deployed Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle, the two best perimeter defenders on the team, at the top of the zone. When asked about it, Matisse just laughed, flashed his signature smile, and said, “it probably sucked for them.”
Doc Rivers has always been a top-quality NBA coach. You do not win twelve Coach of the Month awards if you’re a mediocre coach. Doc Rivers’ bases his basketball philosophy on defense, and the Sixers roster gives him the perfect tools to implement that philosophy on the court. The scariest part? This team has only been together for around two months. Just imagine what Doc will do with this team over the next few months.
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Mandatory Credit: EssentiallySports