Tuesday, July 5, 2022

76ers vs. Raptors: Doc Rivers defends past playoff team collapses as pressure mounts on Philly before Game 6

After winning the first three games of their first-round series against the Toronto Raptors, the Philadelphia 76ers have dropped two straight games, and now find themselves just two losses away from a historic collapse. No team in NBA history has ever lost a series after building a 3-0 lead. 

With the pressure mounting on the Sixers to take care of business and avoid ending up on the wrong side of history, Doc Rivers found himself defending his coaching resume amid questions about his previous playoff collapses. Rivers is the only coach in league history to lose multiple series after being up 3-1. This has happened to Rivers three times — with the Orlando Magic (2003), and twice with the Los Angeles Clippers (2015 and 2020). 

While that stat is pretty jarring — and not especially comforting for fans in Philadelphia at the moment — Rivers thinks that the context around those losses is important, and something that often gets glossed over. 

“Well, it’s easy to use me as an example, but I wish y’all would tell the whole story with me,” Rivers said on Wednesday. “My Orlando team was the eighth seed. No one gives me credit for getting up against the Pistons, who won the title. That was an eighth seed. I want you to go back and look at that roster. I dare you to go back and look at that roster. And you would say, ‘What a hell of a coaching job.’ Really. 

“I mean, the Clipper team [in 2015] that we lost 3-1, Chris Paul didn’t play the first two games, and was playing on one leg, and we didn’t have home court,” Rivers added. “And then the last one [in 2020], to me, is the one we blew. That’s the one I took. We blew that. And that was in the bubble. And anything can happen in the bubble. There’s no home court. Game 7 would have been in L.A. But, it just happens. So I would say with me, I gotta do better, always. I always take my own responsibility. And then some of it is, circumstances happen. This one, let’s win it, and we don’t have to talk about it.”  

You can see Rivers’ comments below: 

While some circumstances are certainly out of a coach’s control, it still doesn’t look great for Rivers that he has blown a 3-1 lead three separate times, when no other coach has done so more than once. And if he adds the first-ever 3-0 collapse on top of that … yikes. In order to avoid that and pull out a win over Toronto in the series, Rivers wants to see his team play better defensively and with more pace on the offensive end. 

“We have to get more stops, because they don’t run,” Rivers said. “They run when they can, but when they don’t, they use the clock to 22 seconds. So then the game is a slow-paced game and a half-court game. So the two things: No. 1, we have to get more stops. No. 2, when we get stops and even on scores, we got to play at a better pace.” 

If the Sixers can do both of those things, then they should put themselves in position to win Game 6 on Thursday night. If not, then the pressure facing Rivers and his team is only going to continue to mount. 

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