Doc Rivers Praised by Key Member of the Sixers Following Win Over Hawks

Doc Rivers, Sixers

Getty Head coach Doc Rivers of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts during the first quarter of the game against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center on November 23, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

It was a poor start to the season for the Philadelphia 76ers with many fans frustrated by how the team looked. The easy man with a target on his back was Doc Rivers. The veteran head coach has worn out his welcome in Philadelphia with fans frustrated over the stagnant rotations and mistakes seemingly being repeated. However, Rivers deserves a ton of credit for his impact on the Sixers’ getting back on the right track. Despite battling notable injuries to Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey, the Sixers are riding a three-game winning streak and won seven of their last nine games overall.

After his impressive return to the court in which he tallied 30 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists, Embiid gave praise to the head coach. As he put it, “Obviously, injuries happened and we had to make a lot a lot of adjustments, whether it was me becoming more of a playmaker and then we also got some guys that can handle and score the ball in Tobias (Harris), Shake (Milton), Tyrese (Maxey) before he got hurt, Furk (Korkmaz). So I think it’s all about just us playing together. Coaching staff, coach Doc and his staff, they’ve been getting everybody ready just to make sure that we come in and we do everything possible to win these games,” per Ky Carlin of SixersWire.

Rivers’ Impactful Coaching

Very few people would have predicted the successful string of play from the Sixers considering the injuries. Since Harden got hurt on November 2nd, the Sixers have gone 8-4. Since Maxey got hurt on November 18th, the Sixers have gone 4-2. During the four games that Embiid was out with his mid-foot sprain, the Sixers went 3-1.

In the 11 games since Embiid came back from illness, the Sixers have ranked first in the NBA by allowing just 103.7 points per 100 possessions. Not only does Philadelphia rank first, but the gap between them and the Indiana Pacers in second is the same gap between the Pacers and Atlanta Hawks at 15th in the NBA. The Sixers also trail only the league-leading Boston Celtics for the best net rating over this stretch.

Despite being undermanned and counted out for many of these matchups, the Sixers played with impressive determination and competed for all 48 minutes. The ball movement has also been much better as the Sixers ranked 9th in the league in passes per game during the four games without the three stars but 21st in the 16 games before this. If Rivers catches the blame for the team underperforming with the biggest stars, he also deserves praise for the team overperforming without them.

Sixers Outlook From Here

After surviving this stretch, the Sixers now sit at 12-9 on the year which put them in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. With still plenty of time left in the season, the next step must be for the Sixers to maintain this level of connectivity and play with the stars back in the lineup.

This has as much to do with Harden and Embiid buying into the team concept as it does with Rivers coaching. Embiid showed signs of his willingness following the most recent win. As he stated post-game, “Lately they have been moving the ball. They’ve been making shots and we have been playing great defense, so I just wanted to come in and fit in and try to make sure everyone keeps doing what they’ve been doing. Because they have been doing a great job,” per Heavy’s Michael Greger.

Rivers’ biggest judgment will be dependent on how the postseason shakes out. If he can continue to be as calculated with his rotation decisions and play call moving forward Sixers fans should feel good about the team’s chances. During the victory over the Hawks, Rivers was masterful in rotating offensive and defensive lineups to successfully navigate to the win. He has raised the floor of this Sixers team in a major way while they have been shorthanded and eyes will continue to be on him moving forward. The next goal must be raising the ceiling of the Sixers with the superstars back in the fold. If Embiid is buying in, maybe the fan base should too.

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