Twitter has been rife with hot takes and harsh criticism toward Doc Rivers in recent days. The Philadelphia 76ers head coach been lambasted for clumsy substitutions, in-game adjustments, and a questionable distribution of minutes. Well, it appears that uneasiness has carried over into the locker room.
According to The Ringer’s Wosny Lambre, Sixers players are questioning Rivers’ rotations and philosophy in the wake of the James Harden trade. No one has made any real negative remarks publicly – aside from Joel Embiid’s casual critique of a recent gameplan – but a few guys have privately voiced their displeasure.
Remember, this is a rumor so take it with a heavy grain of salt. Here is what Lambre said on the The Ringer NBA Show: “A few weeks ago – because I’m decently tapped-in with the players side of what’s happening with the Sixers, though I don’t know anybody in the [Daryl] Morey administration – I’m hearing like, ‘Man, guys are not feeling Doc.’ His rotations, his philosophy, what he’s doing. Guys aren’t feeling it.”
If that wasn’t bad enough, Lambre supplied more evidence of a player-coach feud when he quoted “somebody close to the team” trashing Rivers. People are starting to wonder if he’s the right coach for the Sixers.
Lambre said: “And I run into somebody who is close to the team, I’m like ‘sorry, but I can’t pick you guys to go to the Finals this year’. And his response kinda raised my eyebrow; ‘neither would I’.”
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Fourth Quarter to Forget in Detroit
Rivers was making headlines late Tuesday night for his comments regarding Harden and an epic fourth-quarter collapse. The Sixers had “no life,” according to Rivers, and his players felt the game slowing down. The Pistons went on a 23-4 run over the final eight minutes to slam the door shut.
“We stopped executing in the fourth quarter,” Tobias Harris (14 points) told reporters, via The Associated Press. “We weren’t stopping them on defense and we had too many turnovers to change the momentum. They just kept making plays.”
Rivers lamented a lack of ball movement on the offensive end. Defensively, the Sixers weren’t much better.
“I thought it was a tough game, really,” Rivers said. “I thought offensively, we just stood around. Their switching, we just played outside, didn’t move the ball as a group.”
Work in Progress, Lack of Execution
Sixers players keep pointing out that this team hasn’t played together very long. They are only 16 games into the Harden experiment. Give it time. Problem is, they are running out of time with the postseason rapidly approaching. Philadelphia (46-30) currently holds the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. Five days ago, the Sixers were No. 1 before three straight losses to the Suns, Bucks, and Pistons.
“Work in progress, something that we have to be detailed and focused on, which is something Doc has been preaching to us for a few weeks,” Harden said after losing to Milwaukee. “It seems like the last two teams we played, execution in the fourth quarter was top tier and that’s what we need to be. Basically, for the entire game because in the postseason every possession counts, it comes down to one play. So just trying to be as detailed as possible for four quarters.”
Something’s off right now. Phoenix outscored them 23-18 in the fourth; Milwaukee outscored them 37-27 in the fourth; and Detroit outscored them 29-15 in the fourth. That needs to be fixed or another early playoff exit is guaranteed.