NBA

Doc Rivers closing in on NBA's top 10, playoff woes: The new 76ers coach in Stats Perform data

By Sports Desk October 03, 2020

Is Doc Rivers the man to complete the process for the Philadelphia 76ers?

For so long, fans and pundits alike have been told to "Trust the Process" in Philadelphia, but things have not gone according to plan.

Having tanked and started from the bottom seven years ago following a drastic rebuild of Philadelphia's roster and psyche, the long-term vision delivered stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

But it has only yielded two trips to the Eastern Conference semi-finals, with the 76ers humiliatingly swept by rivals the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs this season.

Bowing out with barely a whimper at Walt Disney World Resort cost head coach Brett Brown his job following seven gruelling years, and raised further questions over the compatibility of franchise pillars Embiid and Simmons.

General manager Elton Brand and the 76ers will be hoping championship-winner Rivers has the answers, having turned to the former Los Angeles Clippers and Celtics coach on a five-year deal, in pursuit of a first title since 1983.

As Rivers – who departed the Clippers following a postseason capitulation – tries to get the 76ers back on track, we look at the 58-year-old using Stats Perform data.

 

Rivers crosses the divide

There is no love lost between the Celtics and 76ers in the Eastern Conference, and Rivers has history in Boston.

Rivers spent nine years as head coach of the Celtics, delivering a championship to the storied franchise in 2008.

As the 76ers try to get the best out of Embiid and Simmons, they will be encouraged by Rivers' ability to bring stars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo together en route to NBA Finals success 12 years ago.

Though, he was unable to take star recruits Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the second-seeded Clippers to the decider this season.

NBA Coach of the Year in 2010, Rivers coached 827 games with the Celtics – including playoffs – which is the second most in franchise history.

Rivers is no stranger to the Celtics-76ers rivalry, having experienced 42 showdowns – boasting a 25-17 record between 2004 and 2013.

Chris Ford (30 with the 76ers and 439 with the Celtics) and Jim O'Brien (87 with the 76ers and 284 with the Celtics) also coached both teams.

 

Doc nearing top 10

Whichever way you want to look at it, Rivers is just a few wins away from joining an esteemed group of coaches.

He has 1,034 career wins (770 losses) across the regular season and playoffs – just three victories shy of entering the top 10 for all-time wins in the NBA, level with Red Auerbach. Current San Antonio Spurs great Gregg Popovich tops the list with 1,447.

If you are just looking at the regular season, Rivers has overseen 943 wins (681 defeats), one behind 10th-placed Bill Fitch. Former Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks coach Don Nelson – a three-time championship-winning coach – stands alone at the top with 1,335.

 

Playoff woes after regular-season success

Rivers swapped the east for the west amid much fanfare and a lucrative pay cheque as the highest-paid coach at the time.

He oversaw the fifth-best record in the NBA with the Clippers – 356-208 in the regular season – but failed to reach the Finals.

The Clippers also top the list for most consecutive seasons with 40-plus wins on nine – seven of those campaigns were on Rivers' watch.

Rivers has a 66.2 winning percentage in his first four seasons with a team, only behind Steve Kerr (80.8), Avery Johnson (73.5), Mike D'Antoni (68.2) and Stan Van Gundy (67.7).

He went 217-11 in his first four seasons with the Clippers, winning at least 50 games each season. However, Rivers went 139-97 (58.9 per cent) over the last three campaigns, failing to reach 50 wins in each season (though he would surely have reached that total this season had it not been for the coronavirus shutdown). Los Angeles finished 49-23.

Rivers was unable to snap the Clippers' curse of never making the Finals – a run of 50 consecutive seasons without appearing in the NBA's showpiece. Only the Atlanta Hawks (59) and Sacramento Kings (69) have been waiting longer, though they have previously advanced.

He is the only coach in NBA history to blow multiple 3-1 leads in the playoffs following the Clippers' capitulation at the hands of the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semi-finals this season. His Clippers also surrendered a 3-1 lead in 2015, as did the 2003 Orlando Magic.

In another concerning postseason trend, there have been seven teams to lose a Game 7 at home by 13 or more points – Rivers was the coach responsible for the last three such games (2017 Clippers, 2009 Celtics, 2005 Celtics).

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