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Another season, another second round exit.
Four out of the past five seasons, the Sixers have reached the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Each time, they’ve faced the same fate. Blown leads, heartbreaking buzzer beaters, you name it, the Sixers have likely suffered through it.
With each passing season, even when it ends abruptly, Sixers fans manage to find some sort of silver lining. This time around, the firing of Doc Rivers seemed like a foregone conclusion, and that was cause for celebration among the fanbase.
Hold the applause, Sixers fans. It appears our worst fears may actually come to fruition.
During Friday’s exit interviews following the team’s elimination, Daryl Morey plainly stated that Doc Rivers will in fact return for his third season as the Sixers head coach.
As always, there’s plenty of blame to go around when a team with falls short of expectations. We can debate who deserves the most blame until we’re blue in the face, but the one thing that most Sixers fans can agree on is that Doc needs to go.
His extraordinary lack of accountability aside, Doc is a washed up offensive mind who has been surpassed by almost every notable head coach in the NBA. Granted, he’s overseen the two best years of Joel Embiid’s career from a statistical standpoint, but at the end of the day, these past two years have felt like every other year, disappointing.
When push comes to shove, the Sixers have consistently underachieved in the biggest moments. I know we’ve all wiped the Hawks series from our memory, so allow me to give a quick refresher. The Sixers became the only team in the past 25 years to blow 18-point leads in back-to-back playoff games. In Game 5, the Sixers were outscored 40-19 in the 4th quarter.
While the team didn’t face the same sort of monumental collapse this year, it was clear that the players just weren’t giving maximum effort. Against a try-hard team like the Heat, even if you have the best player in the series, you have to match that effort at least a little bit.
Doc should have been canned last year. He was on borrowed time for this entire season, and for some inexplicable reason, Morey and the organization thinks bringing a condescending has-been back to lead the franchise is the right move.
I understand the circumstances weren’t ideal this season. The Ben Simmons debacle, coupled with Joel Embiid‘s injury in the postseason, this team wasn’t going to legitimately contend for The Finals this year unless Embiid stayed fully healthy. That’s out of Doc’s control, but we’ve still seen enough to conclude that with Rivers as the Sixers head coach, they’ll continue to fall short.
Now, I do think there’s an outside chance that he isn’t back next year. The Los Angeles Lakers have been eyeing Doc for their vacant head coaching position for some time now. If they approach him with a serious offer, I wouldn’t be shocked if Doc went to Morey and asked to get out of his contract to head west. Both parties need a fresh start and this could be the perfect opportunity for Doc to get that.
That feels the best case scenario at this point. For the first time in my life, I’m actually rooting for LeBron to get his guy. See what the Sixers have done to me? Sad.