What do the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers, and Philadelphia 76ers have in common?
They’ve all been home to some of the biggest collapses in the NBA playoffs over the last decade-plus. Unfortunately for one man, there has been one common denominator in all three organizations too, and his name is Glenn Anton Rivers.
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Doc Rivers is generally viewed as one of the more likable head coaches in the Association and both his playing career – including an All-Star appearance in 1988 – and coaching days have largely been ones worth celebrating. As a head coach, the 59-year-old has an NBA title under his belt, won the 2000 Coach of the Year award, and has racked up 12 conference Coach of the Month honors.
Rivers is currently 10th on the all-time wins list for NBA coaches and is second among active men, trailing only Gregg Popovich. Coming off of back-to-back excruciating “choke jobs” in Games Four and Five of the Sixers Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Atlanta Hawks though, Rivers’ coaching reputation is again in question, to put it lightly.
As loads of NBA fans pointed out Wednesday night and Thursday morning, this is far from the first time that a Rivers-led squad has squandered a significant lead in the playoffs.
1 NBA Title With Celtics Could Have Been 2 or 3
In terms of individual accolades, Rivers’ Coach of the Year award during his days leading the Orlando Magic stands out. What most would assume he calls his proudest moment though, came in 2008, when he was at the helm of the Celtics.
Along with the “Big 3” of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, Rivers and the Celtics won the team’s first NBA title in 22 years and proved that “anything is possible”.
In three of his final five seasons with Boston though, Rivers oversaw a few very memorable collapses by the Celtics. First, in the team’s 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals series against prime Dwight Howard and the Magic, despite holding a 3-2 lead and holding homecourt advantage in Game Seven, Boston lost the final two games by a combined 27 points.
In the 2010 postseason, it seemed like the Celtics had turned the page on the rough ending to 2009 – dropping LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers, getting revenge on the Magic, and going up 3-2 on the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals again. However, starting center Kendrick Perkins got injured early in Game Six, and despite holding a 13-point lead in the second half of Game Seven, Rivers and company lost in another Game Seven.
In his second-to-last season with the Celtics, Rivers again held a 3-2 playoff series edge, but this time, it was the Miami Heat’s “Big 3” of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh who pulled off a stunning comeback to advance.
Standout Seasons With Clippers Marred By Playoff Collapses
After five seasons with the Magic and nine more with the Celtics, Rivers headed west for what would be a seven-year stint with the Clippers. Despite posting an outstanding 356-208 regular season mark with the franchise, Rivers’ playoff mark with the team was sub-par at 27-32. Here’s a further breakdown of some of what transpired across Rivers’ time in L.A.
Now, the arguments against Rivers being an all-time great coach are again coming up by the bushel. He could put a lot of those conversations to rest if the Sixers can somehow win the next two games against the Hawks and advance to their first conference finals in 20 years.
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