While players can steal most of the spotlight, a good head coach can make all the difference in the NBA Playoffs. Margins are tight, with a streak often determined by a few plays over the course of seven games. This is when the bench boss comes in. Take the example of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Joel Embiid and James Harden may be driving the bus, but Doc Rivers will also be under pressure this postseason. Not only is his side expected to make a title run, but the coach has a less than stellar history of snuffing out leads.
With that in mind, what is Rivers’ all-time record in the NBA Playoffs?
Doc Rivers has a long NBA resume, but a less than ideal postseason record
While he spent some time in the Association as a player, Doc Rivers is best known for his work on the sidelines. He broke into coaching in 1999, when he took charge of the Orlando Magic. He has since worked for the Boston Celtics, LA Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers.
As you might expect from being on the bench for over 20 years, Doc has done a very good job in that time. He racked up 1,043 games in 23 regular seasons, losing 735 games. That’s good for a .587 winning percentage, which ranks 37th in NBA history. While that doesn’t sound too remarkable, it’s also worth remembering how sample size affects things. Larry Bird, for example, has the third-highest winning percentage, but has only supported 214 games overall.
For better or worse, however, regular season success does not mean really define a head coach. Instead, it comes down to the playoffs.
Heading into the 2022 NBA playoffs, Rivers has an all-time playoff record of 98-94. Beyond the obvious – being around .500 is nothing out of the ordinary – the veteran bench boss also holds an unwanted distinction. Doc is the only coach to lose three separate 3-1 series leads; 76ers fans are hoping to avoid the same fate this summer.
Doc Rivers and the Philadelphia 76ers will be under pressure in the 2022 NBA Playoffs
Once the playoffs begin, teams generally fall into two categories: those that are just happy to be there and those that are looking to make a serious run for the title. This year, Rivers and his Philadelphia 76ers are firmly in the latter group.
This is largely due to the list. With James Harden and Joel Embiid on the roster, the Sixers need to have a legitimate title run. Anything less will be a waste of assets – they gave away two first-round picks to acquire the bearded guard – and ultimately a disappointment.
The pressure will also be heightened by some of the circumstances surrounding Philly’s first-round series. Matisse Thybulle will not be able to appear in court in Toronto because he has not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. His absence will further extend the 76ers’ lack of depth; the guard is a top-notch defender and would have risen to the challenge of slowing Scottie Barnes or Pascal Siakam.
While this challenge is tough enough, it plays right into one of Doc’s biggest weaknesses in the playoffs. The coach has earned a reputation as someone who struggles to make serial adjustments; Paul George even claimed the Clippers failed to adapt when they collapsed against the Nuggets in 2020.
With Thybulle out for the majority of the series, including Game 7, if things come to this point, Rivers will have to find a solution. If he can’t, and the 76ers fail, it’ll be another lousy addition to the head coach’s postseason resume.
According to Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention (CDC), “More than 520 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020 through January 10, 2022. …COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.
Statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference and accurate as of April 14, 2022.
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