Rivers Praises Heat Legend for Encouraging Him to Coach

Doc Rivers

Getty Images Doc Rivers

The Philadelphia 76ers are getting ready to take on the Miami Heat in the second round of the NBA playoffs. Game one of the series will tip off on Monday night and both teams will be shorthanded to start the series.

The Sixers will be without superstar center Joel Embiid who suffered an orbital fracture and concussion in game six against the Toronto Raptors. Embiid will be reevaluated on Wednesday and could be cleared to return for game three or four.

Meanwhile, the Heat will be without six-time all-star point guard Kyle Lowry for game one. Lowry injured his hamstring in game three against the Atlanta Hawks and has been out ever since. It is uncertain when Lowry will be able to return and the Heat also have five other players listed as day-to-day on Monday’s injury report.

Huge Impact

With Embiid out, the rest of the Sixers are going to have to step up to carry the load. There is also a ton of pressure on head coach Doc Rivers to try and figure out the best rotations without Embiid.

At Monday morning’s shootaround, Rivers spoke to the media about the series and also took some time to reflect. During that time he credited Hall of Famer and Heat president Pat Riley for getting him into coaching.

“I’ve been a lucky coach,” said Rivers. “I guess I would say I’m a lucky player because I played for Mike Fratello who’s a defensive genius and I followed that up with Larry Brown, I followed that up with Pat Riley, and then I go to San Antonio. Pop (Gregg Popovich) is in the front office and that’s where our relationship started so I’ve been around some pretty good guys, but Riley clearly had the biggest impact. It’s not even close.”

“I had no thoughts of coaching until I played for Pat Riley and the way he did it. I thought ‘Wow, that’s pretty cool’. He was the one who when I did TV for three years, every day he would call me or challenge me. When are you gonna get in the fray? He would belittle me! Literally, because I did the Miami-New York series, and every day, he got me. I thought he was wrong, he ended up being right.”

It’s pretty cool to hear Rivers give Riley so much praise and it adds another interesting storyline to this series. Rivers’ future with the Sixers could also be dependent on figuring out a way to beat the Heat.

A Big Series

When the Sixers went all-in at the trade deadline and acquired James Harden the teams’ expectations skyrocketed. Many thought the move made the Sixers championship contenders, which placed a lot of pressure on the team.

A lot of that pressure has fallen on Rivers’ shoulders as he’s been blamed whenever the team has struggled. If the Sixers don’t at least make the conference finals then it’s possible that changes will be coming this offseason.

Rivers will be expected to help the Sixers navigate the first few games of the series without Embiid. If the team can’t overcome his absence then the Sixers will have some tough decisions to make.

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