Doc Rivers To Coach 76ers Next Season; James Harden Undecided

NBA ARTICLES » Doc Rivers To Coach 76ers Next Season; James Harden Undecided
Doc Rivers To Coach 76ers Next Season; James Harden Undecided

After the Philadelphia 76ers were eliminated in the semifinals of the Eastern Conference for the third year in a row, head coach Doc Rivers stated that he intended to return as the team’s coach for the following season. Meanwhile, Sixers guard James Harden stated that he had yet to begin to think about his offseason decision-making process before deciding whether to opt into his contract for the following season or become a free agent.

Doc Rivers said, “Yeah,” after his team was defeated by the Boston Celtics 112-88 in Game 7 of the conference playoffs on Sunday afternoon. “If I had to guess, I’d say I have two years left.”
Rivers, who was hired after the NBA’s bubble in the winter of 2020, had presided over three straight seasons with improved records, going from 49 wins in 2020-21 to 51 victories last season to 54 victories this campaign — the most victories Philadelphia had had in any season since 2001, when Allen Iverson won the NBA’s MVP award and led the 76ers to their last appearances in the Eastern Conference finals and NBA Finals. Rivers was hired after the NBA’s bubble in the winter of 2020.

The Philadelphia 76ers anticipated that the fact that Joel Embiid won the Most Valuable Player award this season would indicate that they would follow a similar path through the playoffs. Instead, it led to a loss in the conference semifinals for the third consecutive season, following losses to the Atlanta Hawks in seven games in 2021 and to the Miami Heat in six games in the previous season.

When questioned about the state of his relationship with Rivers and if he thinks Rivers should continue in his role as coach for the upcoming season, Harden’s response was, “Our relationship is OK.”

Embiid, on the other hand, was effusive in his appreciation of Rivers. However, the center also stated that the coaching industry is tough and that he is glad he isn’t making these decisions because he has witnessed the recent firings of Monty Williams in Phoenix and Mike Budenholzer in Milwaukee. Both of these coaches had been with their respective teams for a considerable amount of time.

According to Embiid, “Coach has been fantastic,” and he said, “In my opinion, he’s done a great job.”

In this series, Philadelphia had two opportunities to progress past Boston and win the game. But after leading 83-81 with just under six minutes left in Game 6 on Thursday night, Philadelphia was outscored 14-3 on its home court to close the game and see the Celtics keep their season alive. This was followed by Philadelphia getting obliterated in the third quarter on Sunday, losing it 33-10 to see Boston’s three-point lead at halftime balloon to 26 after three quarters.

Because of this, the last 12 minutes of the game consisted of little more than an extended celebration for the sellout audience, who were ecstatic that Boston had made it to at least the Eastern Conference finals for the fifth time in the prior seven years.

Rivers stated that the team had played exceptionally well during the entire year but that “this loss diminishes what we did this year,” in some respects.

On the other hand, Harden was explicitly questioned about his plans for the summer after spending his first full season in Philadelphia when he led the league in assists and helped Embiid win MVP but eventually failed to advance in the playoffs for a second consecutive year. In Philadelphia, Harden also helped Embiid earn the award for Most Valuable Player.

Harden responded, “I haven’t even thought about it,” when asked about it.

Harden has the choice this summer to either accept his player option for next season, which is worth $35.6 million or to decline it and become a free agency without any restrictions.

When asked a short while later about what he anticipated his next opportunity would look like if he became a free agent, Harden responded, “I just want to have a chance to compete.”

Harden shot just 12-for-55 over Philadelphia’s four losses in this series, including 3-for-24 from 3-point range, whereas he shot 37-for-61 across the team’s three wins. Harden’s performance was much improved in Philadelphia’s three victories.

“They did a really good job,” Harden said of Boston’s defense in Game 7, which limited him to shooting 3-for-11 from the field and 1-for-5 from 3-point range. However, harden also admitted that the defense was a factor in the team’s loss. Do you understand what I mean when I say that Robert Williams was in the paint? We demanded that he pay the balance in advance, but after that, we stopped doing successful things, and things started to go more slowly.

After yet another elimination in the second round, Philadelphia will now participate in the postseason’s off-time activities. According to research conducted by ESPN Stats & Information, Rivers currently has a record of 6-10 in Game 7s as a head coach, which is twice as much as any other coach in the history of the NBA. Rivers’ record includes ten losses. In addition, he has been defeated in the deciding game in the last five.

Rivers has now been eliminated from the playoffs in the second round of the playoffs a total of six times since he left the Celtics at the end of the 2013 season, and he hasn’t been to the conference finals since he did so with the Boston Celtics in 2012.

He stated that he and the 76ers would spend a lot of time thinking about the wasted opportunities they had in this series — notably in Game 6 — this summer as they seek to digest this most recent postseason defeat.

Rivers responded with “disappointed” when asked how he felt about being in this predicament once again. “I’m disappointed. We had the right team. I did say that.

“It’s pretty funny,” he went on to say. “When I look out, I occasionally discuss the importance of maintaining receipts; do you understand what I mean? I seriously doubt that there is a single person in this room that chose the Sixers. Not one. But we did. And despite this, we made the conscious decision to have the mindset that we could win, and we came very close to doing so.

“Game 6 is going to be something that we’ll be considering. Game 7 is going to be something that occupies our minds. But as far as the fight goes, our troops didn’t care about anyone who picked against us, including the other team. They believed there was still a chance for them to win this series. And that is one of the many positive aspects of our staff. I had the impression that we were competitors overall.