Doc Rivers is showing why he was the perfect hire as playoffs near

NBA: APR 09 76ers at Pelicans
NEW ORLEANS, LA – APR 09: Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers reacts to a play against New Orleans Pelicans during a NBA game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Philadelphia 76ers at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA on Apr 09, 2021. (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire)

When the Sixers opted to hire head coach Doc Rivers to replace Brett Brown, the team was hoping for a corresponding exchange in identity. Rivers, who boasts the tenth-most all-time NBA coaching wins with 986 and counting, has long carried the identity of a winner- a character trait the Sixers longed to possess. 

Proven Winner 

Known and feared by his competitors, Rivers has reached the pinnacle of success as a coach several times over. Through a little over two decades of head coaching experience, the Chicago native has won Coach of the Year, an NBA championship, and the near 1,000 aforementioned games. 

Additionally, unlike his predecessor, Rivers accomplished these high achievements as a head coach, unlike Brett Brown whose career highlights involve being the wingman to Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. 

Coaching Guru 

Although all the accolades are nice and well deserved, perhaps the most outstanding trait about Rivers is his ability to extract the most out of his players. Rivers has overseen countless all-star campaigns and is currently the mastermind behind the career years being put on by Sixers stars Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid.

Furthermore, the longtime NBA coach has also helped expedite the development of youngsters Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, and Shake Milton, among others. Every player on the roster seems to trust Rivers and his plan thoroughly and that understanding translates well on the court. With each player bought into the system, the Sixers have looked much more fluid on both ends of the floor than in years past. 

Unlike Brett Brown, who failed to draw the best of really any player on the Sixers, Rivers seems to lean into the strengths of each player to maximize their output. Under Brown, it was apparent that the Sixers’ massive ceiling was not being reached, at the very least not consistently. For this reason, the Sixers chose to bring in the fierce competitor in Rivers. 

A new chapter for Doc Rivers & the Sixers

Confident that he could make the unorthodox pairing of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid mesh, freshly-minted president of basketball ops Daryl Morey decided to join Rivers to usher in a new era in Philly. An era that would hopefully be remembered more for its success than its shortcomings. 

“My goal is to win a championship so whatever gets us there is what we’ll do,” Morey said in his introductory press conference in November. “But I would say to have two star-plus players at 24 and 26 years old, that is why I couldn’t get Doc Rivers to come interview in Houston because he saw this roster and he said, ‘It’s amazing, and sorry I didn’t come fly to Houston to meet with you, Daryl.’” 

Rivers admitted that the opportunity to coach two budding stars was simply too enticing to pass up, despite the rumored discord between the two. After Brown failed to so much as produce a conference finals appearance with the supremely talented Simmons-Embiid duo, many wondered if the pairing could ever coexist. In just his first campaign in Philly, Rivers has all but laid that talk to rest. 

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