Doc Rivers continues to fail when the 76ers need him the most
I have never shied away from my criticism of Glenn Rivers, and I won’t stop now. After the criminal performance he displayed in the playoffs, he entered the 2021 season without skipping a beat. The Sixers dropped their home opener last week to the Brooklyn Nets, which doesn’t sound like a big deal until you see how they lost. After holding a lead in all three previous quarters, Philadelphia scored just 18 total points in the fourth and managed to muster up just one singular point in the final five minutes. Now, you tell me, does that sound familiar?
Brooklyn went on a 16-1 run to close out that game, on multiple occasions Rivers and the coaching staff had opportunities to challenge calls in the final minutes of the game but opted not to take the chance. When asked, Rivers immediately deflected any accountability onto their unnamed “replay guy” who gave a thumbs down to all the controversial calls.
Following the game, the NBA released the 2-Minute Report which concluded that all of the calls would have gone in the Sixers favor had they used their challenges, but thankfully for Brooklyn, Rivers has no idea what he is doing.
Aside from the glaring, obvious shortcomings in this game, to dive deeper into the issue with the offense in the final minutes is that it lacks creativity. For more than a year, Doc’s entire game plan down the stretch is to isolate Embiid or Harris in the mid-post and see what happens, and we have been seeing what happens. I have never seen a team panic in late game situations the way Philadelphia does at times. They have a seasoned coach, veteran players, and an MVP candidate and somehow they look like a group of middle schoolers when things get hectic down the stretch.
Rivers had Tyrese Maxey in the dunker spot for multiple possessions at a time, and that was deemed to be a Simmons issue, clearly it is not. Joel Embiid is one of the most talented scorers in the game, but stagnating the offense and handing the ball to him is never going to be a viable way to close out games.
I understand that it’s so early in a very long season, but this is who Doc Rivers is as a coach. The perpetuation of the main concerns about his coaching philosophy is what makes this the Sixers’ biggest issue. Every year, even in a new city with a new team, Rivers has had the same issue of blowing leads, series, and games. He doesn’t adjust, he doesn’t innovate, he has just been consistently blessed with supremely talented rosters and has carved out a reputation of being a great coach.
Personally, I don’t see it.