76ers’ hiring of Doc Rivers comes with its fair share of pressure

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Clippers
Doc Rivers will have high expectations placed on his shoulders upon his arrival to Philadelphia.
Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

The hiring of Doc Rivers as the new head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers didn’t take too long.

Just a day after initial reports tabbed the veteran coach and Sixers executives to meet in the Philadelphia area, the deal was all but done.

Rivers spent less than a week on the unemployment line after he was dismissed by the Los Angeles Clippers, prompted by the dismal blown lead in the second round of the postseason, losing a 3-1 series lead against the Denver Nuggets.

Regardless, the 59-year-old is one of the most well-respected coaches in the NBA world, now preparing for a 22nd season as a bench boss for what will be his fourth different team in the 76ers.

It could be argued that no one has made more of winning a singular championship than Rivers, who boasts just one NBA title earned with the Boston Celtics in 2008. In his previous 21 years, he won a conference title just one other time, two years following his championship with the Celtics.

But Rivers will be tasked in bringing a culture change of sorts within the 76ers’ ranks and locker room.

Given his experience working with prominent stars and personalities ranging from Kevin Garnett to Paul Pierce, to Blake Griffin, to Chris Paul, to Paul George, Rivers’ next challenge will be striking the right chords to bring rhythm to the Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons partnership.

After the 76ers were swept out of the bubble in the first round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics, which prompted the firing of Brown, speculation only grew that Embiid and Simmons would never work together. It led to some believing the duo would be broken up, an idea which GM Elton Brand quickly shot down.

This is where Rivers comes in, providing a rigid structure within a team that didn’t necessarily have that under former head coach Brett Brown. An ability to fearlessly tell the two star players their responsibilities and getting on their cases to do so is exactly what the 76ers need to hit that next level of success.

But Rivers will also be tasked in getting the most out of the rest of his roster, most notably in the forms of Al Horford and Tobias Harris.

Horford struggled mightily to hit his stride in Philadelphia, prompting many to label his remaining $81 million as a contractual nightmare. Meanwhile, Harris is in the second year of his $180 million deal. But what is promising is that he played some of the best basketball of his career under Rivers with the Clippers.




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