Doc Rivers Talks Championships, Comments on Sixers ‘Process’

Doc Rivers

Getty Doc Rivers guided the Boston Celtics to the championship in 2008 and won basketball's ultimate prize.

The exact date for when the Philadelphia 76ers’ fabled “Process” actually started has been widely debated. Most point to 2013 in the aftermath of the ridiculous, failed trade for Andrew Bynum.

Sam Hinkie took the reins that year as Sixers general manager and he started dealing draft picks like a high-stakes gambler. The biggest jackpot came in 2014 when he cashed in his chips for Joel Embiid with the third overall pick, leading the All-Star center to jokingly refer to himself as “The Process.”

Philadelphia would draft Ben Simmons in 2016 and trade for Tobias Harris in 2019 to create the Big Three. But there was a lot of intentional losing that went into constructing their current roster — the Sixers went 75-253 during the height of the “Process” — and the NBA tried to shut it down. Eight years later, the Sixers are the top seed in the Eastern Conference and the favorites to get to the NBA Finals.

Doc Rivers watched it from afar as head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers where he helped establish a winning culture in a more traditional way. Much like he did for the Boston Celtics. On Friday, Rivers was asked if he thought Philly’s unorthodox method of “tanking to the top” worked. Well, did it?

“We don’t know yet would be the answer,” Rivers said. “I don’t know how long ago that was. It’s funny how we can go either way on if that was successful or not. I think if someone said I’ll give you a 12-year plan, I would take it. I don’t know if that was 10 years ago? When did that process start? I’m being honest, I don’t know.

“I don’t know how long it takes each franchise to win a title. You know, we did it in Boston. We turned it around quicker. We had the good fortune of having Paul Pierce already before we even started it and then we made a couple of great trades. Miami did it differently, they just went out and got guys that agreed to play with each other. I think there are a lot of ways to become a championship team. And we’re doing it this way.”

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No Minutes Restrictions in Postseason

The Sixers will host the Washington Wizards on Sunday at 1 p.m in the first round. The team is finally healthy, with nobody listed on the injury report heading into Game 1. That means Rivers can substitute at will and lean on his starters. The head coach confirmed that there are no minutes restrictions or “load management” policy in the postseason.

“You’re not worried about minutes in the playoffs, whereas in the regular season you are,” Rivers told reporters. “For example, in the regular season a team could be making a run and I look over and ask, ‘How many minutes does Joel have left?’ You don’t ask that question in the playoffs. You just put Joel back in. It’s a little easier in that way, in that you don’t have to monitor minutes.”

Embiid averaged 31.1 minutes per game in the regular season and those numbers should go up to at least 40 in a tight game. Ditto for Simmons who logged 32.4 minutes per game. Both players were named finalists for two major awards: NBA MVP (Embiid) and Defensive Player of the Year (Simmons).

“It’s well deserved, it’s what it should be. Both of them, in my opinion, should win,” Rivers said. “But the first honor is being nominated, I guess, and then the second honor is them winning it. Happy for them because that success means team success.”

Simmons Ready for Bradley Beal, Russell Westbrook

Simmons isn’t one to instigate with his words off the court. He’ll show up on Sunday and do his best to lock down the opposition. The Sixers point guard will mostly likely shadow Wizards star Russell Westbrook, an aggressive and physical former MVP who averaged a triple-double per game (22.2 points, 11.7 assists, 11.5 rebounds) this year. Simmons is ready.

“We just have to be prepared,” Simmons said. “We have to be locked in, everybody has to buy into what we’re doing out there and be consistent, and just come prepared and stay ready.”

Bradley Beal is Washington’s other leading man. He was the second-leading scorer in the league this season at 31.3 points per game. Matisse Thybulle should take on Beal in the playoffs.

“One’s the MVP [Westrbook] and one’s one of the best scorers the league’s seen in Beal,” Simmons said. “So it’s going to be a tough matchup and a tough series. Lot of respect to that team.”

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