For the second year in a row, Doc Rivers found himself in an incredibly underperforming playoff run. This time around though, his comments seemed to have resulted in Ben Simmons wanting to leave the team.
According to a report by Keith Pompey, Ben Simmons' camp believes Doc Rivers was never "reprimanded" for his controversial statement about not knowing whether Ben Simmons can be a point guard to a championship team.
When Doc Rivers made that statement about Ben Simmons, it felt like there was no way Simmons could return to the Sixers. Now, it seems like that's actually the case. So, how much blame does Doc Rivers deserve for some of his team's failures?
After suffering a historic 3-1 collapse with the Clippers, Doc Rivers suffered another historic collapse with the 76ers the next year. In Game 4, the Sixers blew an 18 point lead, and in Game 5 they blew a 26 point lead. They were facing a 5th seeded Atlanta Hawks team that the Sixers should have very much defeated.
However, it's been a very similar run with Rivers' tenure with the Clippers and other teams. Rivers has coached six teams that have blown 3-1 or 3-2 series leads, and two of them were with the Clippers within a span of five years. He has the most 3-1 blown series leads in NBA history at three. After the Clippers suffered their collapse in 2020, both Rivers and Paul George began throwing shade at each other. George stated there weren't enough adjustments, and Rivers indirectly stated that players didn't accept Paul George. One year later, a similar situation happened with Ben Simmons - that's just unacceptable.
When it comes to the blame game, Rivers definitely deserves more than he's getting. Ben Simmons was not good in the 2021 playoffs, but there's a recurring trend that's occurring here now with Rivers. It's a near decade-long level of accountability that's been avoided. The list of players Rivers has coached that he never won a ring with include: Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Lou Williams, Jamal Crawford, Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons, and more. They weren't just unlucky losses decided by health either, nearly all of them were through blowing double-digit leads.
However, he deserves a ton of credit too. Rivers does a fantastic job at motivating players like DeAndre Jordan to elevate their game. He does a great job at raising the ceiling of his teams in the regular season, like how phenomenal the Sixers were as the first seed in the regular season. When Rivers was coaching a less talented team like the 2017 or 2018 LA Clippers, he raises their ceiling in a way that no one can - it's legitimately tremendous to witness.
Unfortunately, the playoffs just seem to be a different game. When things get bad or adjustments need to be made, that's when the wheels fall off.