On Wednesday night, the Philadelphia 76ers took their second loss in the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals, with the Miami Heat leading the series 2-0 at the time of this writing. 76ers superstar Joel Embiid has missed the first two games of the series due to an injury suffered in the first round. He has not progressed out of the league’s concussion protocols, so the odds of him missing Game 3 are high at the moment. James Harden has not been performing at the level he has been accustomed to over the last handful of seasons. In addition, the Sixers have not been receiving much help outside of Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey.
In the two seasons he has been head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, Doc has led to team to a 49-23 record in last season’s 72-game season and 51-31 this season. The team finished as the first seed in the East last season, making it out of the first round but losing to the Atlanta Hawks in seven games. This season, Doc coached the Sixers to the fourth seed and a first-round win against the Raptors. With the Raptors facing multiple injuries, the team still took Philadelphia to six games, but Joel Embiid was injured in the process. Leading by almost 30 points in the fourth quarter, Embiid was still in the game and took a hit that resulted in a concussion and orbital fracture for the Sixers superstar.
If Philly ends up losing this series against the Miami Heat, it should be expected that some changes will occur. With Harden just arriving earlier in the season and Embiid having another career year, it is likely that Doc will be the first person to go if changes occur. Joel Embiid is in the prime of his career and there is no telling how much longer he will be in his prime due to his history of injuries. If the team cannot improve, it is likely that Embiid’s frustration with the team will start to grow. While the team does need to improve on the bench as well, Rivers would be the biggest change for the Sixers going forward.
Looking towards the future, there is no true telling what could be next for Doc Rivers and the Sixers organization. With Doc not leading the Sixers to an NBA championship last year and most likely this year, as well as not leading the Clippers past the Western Conference semifinals the seven years before that, there may not be many championship-contending teams looking to make Doc their head coach. A young, inexperienced team may see Doc as a suitable coach to help their talent grow. Another possibility is that after 23 straight seasons of coaching in the NBA, Doc Rivers may call it quits, at least as an NBA head coach.
On the Sixers’ end, there are several directions the organization could go if they part ways with Doc Rivers. With James Harden’s reconnection with former Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, going after former head coach Mike D’Antoni may be the next step for the Sixers. Harden saw his best years under D’Antoni. He won MVP under D’Antoni and reached the conference finals in 2018. If anyone could bring the best out of Harden going forward, D’Antoni may be the best option. Another option for the Sixers organization if they part ways with Rivers is to test the coaching market. Former coaches like Frank Vogel, Terry Stotts, and Alvin Gentry are available and it is expected that some coaches will part ways with their respective teams this offseason. The rest of Philadelphia’s series against the Heat will play a huge role in determining Doc River’s future with the organization. Down 2-0 at the time of this writing, Doc’s role could be in serious danger.
- NBAFebruary 24, 2024Five Questions for the Final Stretch of the Season
- NBAFebruary 19, 2024Is LeBron Leaving the Lakers this Summer a Real Possibility?
- NBAFebruary 10, 2024NBA Swing: A Slow and Uneventful 2024 Trade Deadline
- NBAFebruary 3, 20242024 NBA All-Star Reserves Announced. Who got Snubbed?