The Philadelphia 76ers will tip off their second-round playoff matchup against the top-seeded Miami Heat tonight. They will, of course, be doing so without MVP candidate Joel Embiid, who suffered an orbital fracture (again) and a concussion in his team's close-out performance in Game 6 against the Toronto Raptors. Doc Rivers attempted to explain why Embiid was still on the court and taking elbows from Pascal Siakam when his team was up by nearly 30 points, and didn't sound particularly regretful while arguing that everybody else would've done the same thing.
Obviously Rivers would've done things differently in retrospect. Nobody thinks he would have kept Embiid in the game had he known what would happen. And it's tough to expect a coach to give any other answer in that spot. But it still doesn't sound great and the Philadelphia fan base is tough to please on the best of days. Between this and Rivers' defense of his history of blowing big playoff leads, it's been a tough stretch for the veteran head coach.
As a result, Jay Williams said he doesn't expect Rivers to be on the sideline for the Sixers next season on this morning's Keyshawn, JWill, & Max.
Williams' argument effectively boils down to the fact that Doc will take the blame for Embiid's injury (fair or not), the way he's handling criticism in media appearances won't help, and the Sixers' likely early exit against Miami without Embiid will be the final nail in the coffin.
Rivers is a great basketball coach, but getting his team to play better than the sum of its collective parts has never really been his MO. Rivers enables great players to play great. It's a valuable trait but not one that allows his team to play above their skill level. That's why the widely-held assumption is that, unless Embiid comes back sooner than expected and somehow maintains the level of play he was at during the first round, Philly will be going home early again.
The only man who can save Rivers is, you guessed it, James Harden. The onus is now entirely upon Harden to ensure Philadelphia doesn't fall into a hole they can't climb out of. And nothing about Harden's season suggests he's capable of doing that.
Rivers may yet pull a rabbit out of his hat. But the Sixers are in trouble, and if the worst happens, Doc will take the blame. Williams is probably right to believe it'll lead to his dismissal. Or a mutual parting of ways.