After cruising through the first three games against the Toronto Raptors, the Philadelphia 76ers have hit consecutive speed bumps and are in real danger of a winner-take-all circus in a city that simply could not handle a meltdown of such proportions. Adding to the general unease is the existence of Doc Rivers as head coach, the only man to preside over squandering three separate 3-1 lead meltdowns. Predictably, the topic came up today and Rivers opted to defend his track record.
“It’s easy to use me as an example, but I wish y’all would tell the whole story with me,” he said. “My Orlando team was the 8 seed. No one gives me credit for getting up against the Pistons who won the title. That was an 8 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 wouldn’t say ‘What a hell of a coaching job’. Really.”
This would be a great thing to point out if it were accurate. Any Pistons fan can tell you that Detroit was totally outclassed by the New Jersey Nets in an Eastern Conference Finals sweep. Yes, the Magic were Tracy McGrady and a box of Pogs at that point, but still. Not a great start.
“The Clipper team that we lost 3-1,” Rivers continued. “Chris Paul didn’t play in the first two games and was playing on one leg and we didn’t have home court. The last one, to me, is the one we blew. That’s the one I sat we blew that and that was in the bubble and anything could happen in the bubble. There’s no home court. Game 7 would have been in LA, but it just happens.”
The Rivers narrative could definitely benefit from some nuance. And honestly, I don't blame Doc for sticking up for himself and making some decent points. Sports are hard and playoff teams tend to be pretty competitive. Stuff happens.
Sixers fans, though, probably don't love that this is the state of discourse headed into Game 6. If bad vibes had a voice this is what it'd sound like.