Doc Rivers

Sixers Notes: Game 7 Loss, Embiid, Harden, Rivers

The Sixers knew they let an opportunity get away after squandering a lead in Game 6 and then collapsing in the second half of Game 7, writes Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. A series with multiple momentum shifts ended in a familiar way for Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon, with a disappointing loss that leads to an offseason filled with questions about the future.

The Sixers seemed to seize control of the series a couple of times — first by taking Game 1 in Boston without Joel Embiid, then rallying for a Game 4 victory that was followed by a dominant road win in Game 5. A spot in the Eastern Conference Finals — which would have been the first time the franchise has advanced that far since 2001 — appeared within reach, but they couldn’t find a way to finish the series.

“Up 3-2 against the defending Eastern Conference champs,” Tyrese Maxey said. “We knew after we won Game 5 that it wasn’t going to be easy going home, that it was going to everything we had. We let that opportunity slip between our hands. … It’s really difficult to close out a series, especially when you’re playing a good team like that. A team that’s battle-tested. A team that’s been through it. A team that’s been there before. We had two opportunities to close them out. Unfortunately, we didn’t get it done.”

There’s more on the Sixers:

  • Embiid wouldn’t confirm coach Doc Rivers‘ speculation that he tweaked his injured knee again, but he acknowledged that he was “limited” by the LCL sprain that he suffered at the end of the first-round series, Mizell adds. Doctors said the injury would typically sideline a player for four to six weeks, but Embiid came back early to try to add an NBA title to his MVP award. “It’s tough losing, especially this way,” he said. ” … You can be sad about it all you want, but you’ve always got to find ways to be better and keep improving. And that’s what I’m going to do, win or lose.”
  • Speculation about the Sixers’ future started immediately, particularly regarding James Harden, who has been rumored for several months to be considering a return to Houston. Harden didn’t mention the Rockets in his post-game session with reporters, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, but he said, “I just want to have a chance to compete.” Harden has a $35.6MM player option for next season that he’s expected to decline.
  • Rivers, whose future in Philadelphia is also under speculation, talked about the playoff series and the tenuous nature of coaches during an interview with Steve Bulpett of He defended Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla, who was under fire each time Boston lost. “When we were making shots and playing well, that wasn’t on Joe. It was never Joe,” Rivers said. “It’s always that you’ve got to execute and you’ve got to play well, and it’s a make-miss league. I don’t think there was an issue on either side. One team beat the other team. That’s what happens.”

Doc Rivers Plans To Remain Sixers’ Coach

Doc Rivers plans to coach the Sixers again next season, he told ESPN’s Tim Bontemps and other media members after the team’s Game 7 flameout in Boston on Sunday.

“I think I have two years left (on my contract),” Rivers said.

Given that such coaching luminaries as Monty Williams and Mike Budenholzer have lost their jobs after early playoff exits, Rivers knows he may not get the chance.

“No one’s safe in our business, I get that,” Rivers said (Twitter video link via NBA Central).

As Bontemps points out, the Sixers have seen their regular season record improve during Rivers’ three seasons. They won 49 games in his first season with Philadelphia, 51 last season and 54 this year while claiming the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 seed. However, the Sixers have stalled in the conference semifinals for three consecutive seasons.

Most Valuable Player award winner Joel Embiid praised his coach after the loss. That could bode well for Rivers, considering the extent to which franchises cater to their superstars’ whims.

“Coach has been fantastic and he’s done a great job, in my opinion,” Embiid said.

James Harden, who can opt out of his contract, was much more subdued when asked about Rivers. “Our relationship is OK,” Harden said.

Rivers admits that the lopsided defeat on Sunday after the Sixers led 3-2 in the series will be the lasting memory of the season.

“We played great all year,” Rivers said, “and this loss absolutely diminishes that, what we did this year, in some ways.”

Eastern Notes: Rivers, Knicks, Nets, Murphy

Now that the Sixers have been eliminated by the Celtics, is Doc Rivers a goner? Marc Stein wrote in his latest Substack article prior to Game 7 on Sunday that there have been recent murmurs Rivers’ status could become precarious if the team failed to close out the series. It wouldn’t be surprising, considering that proven coaches like Mike Budenholzer and Monty Williams have recently been dismissed due to postseason disappointments.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • With a wealth of extra draft picks and some solid young players, the Knicks could be in line for the next star who demands a trade, Eric Pincus writes for Bleacher Report. The salaries of Derrick Rose and Evan Fournier could help facilitate a deal, along with potential younger trade pieces such as Mitchell Robinson, Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes and Obi Toppin.
  • After getting burned by trying to build around superstars, the Nets will be looking to build around players who want to stay with the franchise, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. GM Sean Marks will have a busy offseason but the thing he’ll be looking for the most is high-character guys who want to be part of the group. “It’s got to come authentically. It’s got to be real,” Marks said. “I mean, I think we’ve seen it before, not just here but around the league. You bring somebody in and it’s not authentic to who they are. We want to make sure people that want to come here want to be part of something special and being part of Brooklyn and part of this unique situation.”
  • Former Pistons executive Rob Murphy and his legal representatives are firing back at the woman who accused him of harassment, Tresa Baldas of the Detroit Free Press reports. His lawyer alleged the Pistons cleared his client months ago of sexual harassment following an internal investigation. The same counsel added that Murphy looks forward to defending his name through the judicial process.

Sixers Notes: Maxey, Rivers, Harden, Embiid

Sixers players didn’t hold back at today’s film session as they reviewed their Game 3 loss to the Celtics, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. There was plenty to critique as Philadelphia fell by double digits and watched home court advantage slip away. The Sixers will have to regroup for Sunday to avoid heading back to Boston with a 3-1 deficit.

“I think the biggest thing was today that we were real with each other, and that’s good,” Tyrese Maxey said. “Family has to be real with each other. Family has to express themselves. They have to express the emotions that they’re feeling and you have to get that off your chest. And I think we’ve done a great job of that all year.”

Bontemps states that Maxey shot for the entire hour that reporters were present Saturday as he tries to regain his rhythm following a 4-for-16 performance Friday night. His drills included shooting over taller defenders in the lane.

“(Coach Doc Rivers) was on me,” Maxey said. “He said he felt like I started the third quarter with confidence, and then he said he felt like after I missed a shot or two, then my confidence stopped, and I stopped being aggressive and then started trying to press the issue. I just got to be confident throughout the entire game, and keep being aggressive.”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Rivers tried to get his team back in the right frame of mind following a disappointing outing, Bontemps adds. There have already been a couple of momentum swings in the series, and the long-time coach knows that more are possible. “This is part of going through a playoff grind,” he said. “It’s emotional terrorism at times, and you have to deal with it. You have to be able to handle it. Or you lose. … I thought, after watching the film, we were in a much better place than before.”
  • The Sixers’ perimeter defense is being exploited in a series that Boston could easily be leading 3-0, observes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Pompey states that De’Anthony Melton, P.J. Tucker and Georges Niang have done fine, but the Celtics are taking advantage of Philadelphia’s other defenders and are especially targeting James Harden. Pompey notes that Harden’s best playoff games have come in the series openers when he had time to rest, but he hasn’t been nearly as effective otherwise.
  • Joel Embiid played 39 minutes in his second game since returning from a sprained knee, but he told Rivers he felt great on Saturday, Pompey tweets. Even so, Embiid is listed as questionable on the Sixers’ injury report for Game 4.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Playoff Break, Celtics

Injured Sixers center Joel Embiid faces a big test in the second round of the 2023 Eastern Conference playoffs. Rich Hoffman of The Athletic submits three key questions facing the star big man ahead of Philadelphia’s impending matchup against the Celtics.

Embiid is dealing with a lateral collateral ligament right knee sprain, and the health of that knee will be a huge focus of both teams in the series. Boston center Robert Williams III came off the bench in the team’s first-round series against the Hawks, but given how imperative Embiid is to the Sixers’ play, Hoffman wonders if Williams may get a starting nod to help stifle the 7’1″ MVP candidate. Hoffman notes that Jayson Tatum‘s help defense on Embiid was a big part of the Celtics’ game planning against him.

There’s more out of Philadelphia:

  • The Sixers enjoyed the lengthiest break between playoff series for any club in four years, writes Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “We will take it, I think, at the end of the day,” head coach Doc Rivers said of the extended layoff. “This is the longest [break between series] I’ve ever had, so [we are] just trying to keep our guys as sharp as possible, and all that is not easy.” Mizell adds that Philadelphia has been working on honing its spacing on offense and some defensive concepts.
  • Given Embiid’s LCL injury, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer wonders if the Sixers will be able to adjust successfully enough to defeat the Celtics. Guards Tyrese Maxey and James Harden would be expected to help carry more of the scoring burden, and reserve center Paul Reed could see more run as Embiid manages the knee.
  • Rivers said that Embiid should still be considered doubtful to suit up for the opening game of the Sixers’ series against the Celtics on Monday, but continues to make strides in his rehab, Pompey tweets. Embiid did participate at least a little in Sunday’s practice, Kyle Neubeck of reports.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Reed, Harris, Maxey, Rivers

Joel Embiid‘s right knee injury has been classified as a Grade 1 LCL sprain, but it’s actually more serious than that, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The MVP candidate is considered doubtful for the opener of the second-round series against Boston on Monday, and there are questions about how many games he may have to miss.

Embiid has been able to do some individual shooting drills this week and his condition will be evaluated each day, Charania adds (Twitter link). Game 2 is set for Wednesday in Boston before the series shifts to Philadelphia on Friday and next Sunday.

Embiid hasn’t practiced since being injured, and coach Doc Rivers told reporters today that there’s nothing to update about his condition, writes Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice.

“There is no latest,” Rivers said. “Doctors looked at him and he didn’t do anything today. I’ll say this, if I was a betting man I would say doubtful for at least Game 1, but we’ll see.”

There’s more on the Sixers:

  • Paul Reed turned in a strong performance in the close-out game against the Nets and he’s ready to replace Embiid in the starting lineup for as long as necessary, Neubeck adds. Reed talked Saturday about earning the trust of his teammates over the course of the season and said the mental part of his game has improved since last year’s playoffs. “Knowing where they need me on the court, where I’m going to get my points, and knowing where I’m going to help my teammates get their points,” Reed said. “… My teammates know what to expect out of me now, and I know what they expect out of myself. It’s a lot more clear.”
  • The Sixers will need more production from their supporting cast against the Celtics, particularly if Embiid’s absence turns out to be lengthy, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Pompey states that the coaching staff needs to find a way to get scoring punch from Tobias Harris throughout the game and it should try to run some of the offense through Tyrese Maxey.
  • Rivers discusses his future in Philadelphia, the Sixers’ title aspirations, his love for coaching, his recent playoff failures and several other topics in an interview with David Aldridge of The Athletic.

Sixers Notes: Reed, Harris, Rivers, Tucker

With Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid out due to a right knee sprain, his backup Paul Reed elevated his game to help the Sixers sweep the Nets and advance, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Reed notched a 10-point, 15-rebound game while jumping center for Philadelphia, and also chipped in several key plays on both sides of the ball, opines Pompey.

“He kept his hand on the ball, getting extra possessions,” forward P.J. Tucker said. “That stuff matters. ‘You got to have a motor in this game’ is what I told hm. ‘Don’t worry about scoring. Just worry about being in the right place, right time, helping and communicating.’ And he did. In the second half, he came out and he did that.”

There’s more out of the City of Brotherly Love:

  • Sixers forward Tobias Harris helped ensure that Philadelphia moved on in Sunday’s Game 4 with a stellar turn of his own, writes Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. Neubeck adds that Harris exploited his size advantages against several of his defenders with adept mid-post isolation activity.
  • In response to referees’ decision to initially penalize Embiid more than Nic Claxton for what he saw as a retaliation against a Claxton provocation in Game 3, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said that he felt that the league was pointedly favoring the provocateur, writes Cydney Henderson of USA Today. “If we’re going to start punishing the retaliators, and not the instigators, then we’ve got a problem in this league,” Rivers said. “I think the league is setting up a very dangerous precedent right now… Teams are targeting the better player with instigation to get them thrown out and the better player has to be above and can’t retaliate.”
  • P.J. Tucker helped set the tone for the team’s approach to the sweep, writes Gina Mizell for The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). “From the layup line, the way he was adamant about focus and ‘We’re gonna win today,'” Harris said. “Those types of things just show the winning attitude… and that rubs off on all the other guys on the team.”

And-Ones: Jenkins, Rivers, Perry, Attendance, Incentives, More

Taylor Jenkins of the Grizzlies and Doc Rivers of the Sixers were named the NBA’s March/April Coaches of the Month for the Western Conference and Eastern Conference, respectively, the league announced today (via Twitter).

Jenkins’ 14-8 record in March and April was the West’s second-best mark behind the Lakers (14-6). The Grizzlies’ head coach perhaps earned extra marks for dealing with some Ja Morant-related drama and Brandon Clarke‘s season-ending injury during that time.

Meanwhile, no NBA team won more games in March and April than Rivers’ Sixers, who went 15-7 to lock up the No. 3 seed in the East.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Reggie Perry, a 2020 second-round pick who appeared in 36 games for the Nets, Trail Blazers, and Pacers from 2020-22, has signed with South Korea’s LG Sakers, the team announced on Instagram (hat tip to Sportando). Perry is headed overseas after spending most of the 2022/23 season with the Raptors 905 in the G League.
  • The NBA announced in a press release that the league set a new single-season record for total attendance in 2022/23, establishing new high water marks for both league-wide attendance (22,234,502) and average attendance per game (18,077). Both of those records were previously set in 2017/18.
  • In a pair of tweets, Bobby Marks of ESPN identifies several of the players who earned bonus money by achieving regular season incentives, led by Knicks forward Julius Randle ($2.4MM) and Celtics wing Jaylen Brown ($2.1MM)
  • Is the concept of “voter fatigue” a myth? For the most part, yes, as Howard Beck explains in an interesting piece for GQ Sports.
  • Agent Raymond Brothers – who represents Markelle Fultz, Immanuel Quickley, and Precious Achiuwa, among others – has left Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports and returned to his former agency, IAM Sports, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Brothers said in a statement that he holds Roc Nation in the “highest regard” and wishes them well.

New York Notes: Rose, Robinson, Hart, Brunson, Thomas, Simmons

Derrick Rose, who hasn’t been in the Knicks’ rotation, wasn’t involved in a deal at the trade deadline, but it doesn’t appear Rose will seek a buyout, Zach Braziller of the New York Post writes.

Rose is content to being a team leader and mentoring the Knicks’ younger players. “It’s still the same thing. I’m still locked in with the team, talking to the guys, mentoring,” he said.

However, a source told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News that Rose wouldn’t totally dismiss the possibility of a buyout if there was a team in need of a veteran point guard. The former MVP is signed through next season but there’s a team option on his $15,596,339 salary.

We have more on the New York teams:

  • Mitchell Robinson is progressing well, but the Knicks center won’t return from his thumb injury prior to the All-Star break, Bondy tweets. Robinson, in the first year of a four-year, $60MM contract, has been out of action since Jan. 18.
  • Josh Hart and Jalen Brunson were teammates at Villanova and now they’ve been reunited with Hart being traded from Portland. Brunson believes Hart will make the Knicks grittier, Braziller writes. “He’s a tough-minded guy,” Brunson said. “He doesn’t back down from a challenge and that’s how he is and that’s how he’s been. I’m not worried at all. He’s going to fit in.”
  • Cam Thomas strung together three 40-point games this month but it wasn’t enough to keep him in the starting lineup, Dan Martin of the New York Post notes. Nets coach Jacque Vaughn is trying to sort through all the changes in the roster. Thomas played 18 minutes and scored 14 points against Philadelphia on Saturday. “We’ve seen him garner a lot of attention as a starter, so I don’t think that changes,” Vaughn said. “It will be great to see that against the second unit. He’s a guy we can put the ball in his hand when we need a bucket. He has confidence to come off the bench and score.”
  • Ben Simmons‘ former coach, the Sixers’ Doc Rivers, believes Simmons can regain his All-Star level form with the Nets now that Kyrie Irving has been traded, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I believe he can get back to where he was with us, especially now, I think, because he will have the ball in his hands more,” Rivers said. “I thought that’s what we did that really kind of freed him up. But it’s just going to take time. Now, what has it been, a year and a half? I don’t think it’ll be overnight. But he’s working, and that’s all you can do.”

Nuggets’ Malone, Sixers’ Rivers Named Coaches Of The Month

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone and Sixers head coach Doc Rivers have been honored as the NBA’s coaches of the month for January in their respective conferences, the league announced today (Twitter link).

Malone, who will serve as the coach for Team LeBron at this year’s All-Star Game in Utah, coached Denver to a 12-4 record in January, improving the team’s overall mark to 35-16, good for the No. 1 seed in the West as of this writing.

Rivers led Philadelphia to an 11-3 run last month, which helped the Sixers reach the third seed in the East with a 33-17 record for the season to date. Rivers, the 2000 Coach of the Year, is in his third season with Philadelphia.

The NBA’s PR department tweets that the Thunder’s Mark Daigneault and the Timberwolves’ Chris Finch were the other two finalists for the award in the Western Conference, while Mike Budenholzer of the Bucks, Joe Mazzulla of the Celtics, and longtime Heat coach Erik Spoelstra were runners-up in the East.