Doc Rivers Believes Sixers ‘Maxed Out’ Talent Last Season

Doc Rivers, Sixers

Getty Head coach Doc Rivers of the Philadelphia 76ers during play against the Miami Heat in Game Six of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals at Wells Fargo Center.

Doc Rivers is one of the more respected head coaches in the NBA and has a resume loaded with experience. The current Philadelphia 76ers head coach recently joined the Woj Pod with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski to talk about his experiences and the outlook for himself and the team moving forward. One of the topics discussed was last year’s second-round exit. While many expressed disappointment with the outcome of the team as they failed to get past the second round of the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season, Rivers had an interesting outlook.

The topic was first brought up by Wojnarowski who said he ran into one of the Sixers players at a postseason game last year following the team’s exit. He said this anonymous player told him, “Doc maxed out our team this year. We went as far as we can go.” Rivers agreed with this concept and stated, “We did max out talent out last year. We went as far as we should have gone.” The veteran coach also brought up how much Joel Embiid’s injuries impacted their chances.

Embiid’s Injury

The injury to Embiid is certainly a notable bullet point when discussing the postseason exit. In the final minutes of the Sixers’ Game 6 victory over the Raptors to advance past the opening round of the playoffs, Embiid took an elbow from Pascal Siakam which resulted in a concussion and right orbital fracture.

Embiid missed the first two games of the matchup with the Heat which the Sixers lost by a combined 30 points. This 2-0 series deficit proved too much to come back from and the Sixers were ultimately knocked out in six games in disheartening fashion.

Despite seemingly having the more talented team on paper, the toughness of the Heat and the strong play of Jimmy Butler proved too much to overcome. It was clearly not the result that was desired but the combination of Embiid’s injury, James Harden not looking 100%, and the lack of bench production and toughness led to the team’s downfall.

Sixers Reasons for Optimism Moving Forward

If the roster last season was not considered good enough, the new additions are the reason for optimism moving forward. The Sixers managed to take P.J. Tucker away from the Heat in free agency after he played a major role in last year’s playoff victory for Miami. Embiid’s public call to add Tucker was successful, and his early presence has already been felt within the organization.

The additions did not stop here as De’Anthony Melton, Montrezl Harrell, and Danuel House will also play major roles within the rotation. The growth of Tyrese Maxey and Harden’s return to health and prime fitness also paints a positive outlook. Daryl Morey accomplished his goal of adding talent to the roster and it will now be seen on the court if the outlook will change.

While Ben Simmons caught the brunt of the criticism during the 2020-21 season postseason exit and Embiid’s injury was a driving force last year, the pressure is high heading into this season. Rivers has exceeded regular expectations during his tenure but has a building pressure to get over the second-round postseason hump. There is a great deal of pressure on the veteran coach and it will be his responsibility to max out the talent this year and lead the team to a step forward. The early signs are intriguing, but there is a real argument Rivers has the most pressure on him out of any member of the Sixers organization with the season right around the corner.

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