The 76ers have fired coach Doc Rivers, the team announced Tuesday, two days after Philadelphia fell in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Celtics. Here’s what you need to know:
- The Sixers’ loss in the semifinals marked their sixth straight year of reaching the playoffs, but did not advance beyond the second round.
- Rivers led Philadelphia to a 154-82 regular season and 20-15 playoff record in three seasons.
- Philadelphia hasn’t reached the conference finals since 2001.
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What it says about Sixers ownership
There are plenty of reasons the Sixers gave up on Rivers, and the precedent with that ownership group was already there. Brett Brown had three legitimate chances to get the Joel Embiid-led Sixers past the second round of the playoffs, and when he failed to do so, he was fired in 2020. After the debacle of the Game 7 of the Sixers in Boston on Sunday, Rivers finds himself in the same situation: 0 for 3.
Reasonable minds may disagree on how much of a fault Rivers has in a series that has seen its two best players struggle in the most important moments, but he was brought to Philadelphia to take the Sixers further than they expected. had been. This does not happen.
There’s still a ton of uncertainty heading into the offseason, but firing the coach is always the easiest lever to pull. Bringing Rivers back after three playoff extinctions was untenable. Rivers said after Game 7 that he planned to return, but by then the writing was on the wall. He still had two years left on his contract. — hofman
What Philadelphia stars said about Rivers
Asked about Rivers after the Sixers lost in Game 7, the team’s two star players gave different answers. Embiid called Rivers “fantastic”, saying: “You look at the way he handled the whole (Ben Simmons) situation that we had a year or two ago, he kept the team afloat. He was a great leader for all of us, a great motivator.
James Harden adopted a different tact when asked if the coach should return, saying simply: “Our relationship is going well.” It felt like a brief and revealing response at the time.
With Harden looming as a free agent this summer, and potentially a flight risk to Houston, it didn’t look like Harden and Rivers would be back with the Sixers next year. Now the question is whether one or the other will be back. — hofman
What is Philadelphia looking for in a replacement?
It should be noted that this will be Daryl Morey’s first official coaching hire with the Sixers, as Rivers was signed just weeks before Morey officially took over as president of basketball operations during the season. whirlwind 2020 offseason. As long as Embiid is on the roster, the likeliest outcome is that the Sixers will turn to an experienced coach to try to push the roster to the top.
In recent weeks, three coaches with NBA Finals experience (Nick Nurse, Mike Budenholzer, Monty Williams) have entered the coaching market. Williams was an assistant in Philadelphia under Brown. Mike D’Antoni has always presented himself as a contender given his ties to Morey and Harden, and he had a brief stint as a Sixers assistant during one of Embiid’s early redshirt years. of her career. And there are also other names with experience.
Whoever the Sixers end up hiring will be judged on their playoff record. Rivers’ regular season record with the Sixers was quite good, especially under some adverse circumstances. Embiid has taken his game to another level over the past three years. But they continued to fail in the playoffs. — hofman
Rivers, 61, was signed by Philadelphia in 2020 hoping his championship experience would help the Sixers overcome the playoff hurdles they faced under former coach Brown. Instead, these shortcomings have persisted despite significant revisions to the list.
Under Rivers, the 76ers traded Simmons to the Nets in a deal for Harden, Embiid became an MVP, Tyrese Maxey was drafted and became a reliable 20-point scorer and the team rounded out their roster with veterans such as PJ Tucker, Montrezl Harrell and Jalen McDaniels.
Dating back to 2008, when Rivers was coaching Boston, teams he led have reached the playoffs in 15 of 16 seasons. But not since 2010, when the Celtics reached the NBA Finals, has a team led by Rivers gone past the second round.
Rivers resigned as Clippers coach in 2020 after the team lost in the semi-finals. The following year, under new coach Ty Lue, LA reached its first conference final in franchise history.
What they say
Morey called Rivers “one of the most successful coaches in NBA history, a future Hall of Famer and someone I respect tremendously.”
“We are grateful for all he has done over his three seasons here and thank him for the significant impact he has had on our franchise,” Morey said. “After having had a chance to reflect on our season, we decided that some changes were necessary to pursue our competitive goals for a championship.”
(Photo: Winslow Townson/USA Today)