Sixers: What must change next season

Joel Embiid, Sixers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid, Sixers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

What must change for the Sixers next season: Fire Doc Rivers

This will not happen because Rivers signed a lucrative long-term contract last season, and ownership will not want to spend $20+ million in dead money just to hire another coach. That said, the Sixers’ early exit rests largely on the shoulders of Doc Rivers. In fact, I would argue he was far more detrimental than even Ben Simmons in the Sixers’ defeat.

You cannot go 10-deep in Game 7, especially when your bench is a tire fire with 2-3 playable players who, even then, are better judged game-to-game. The Dwight Howard minutes were unacceptable. The Tobias-plus-four bench player groups were unacceptable. Going to Shake Milton in the fourth quarter, and to close the game, after he has been terrible in all but one (1) quarter this postseason, is unacceptable. Doc’s rotation stubbornness and unearned trust in his players, while Atlanta went barely eight-deep, is part of why the Hawks will face the Bucks Wednesday night.

Rivers did not adjust hardly once after Game 1. The blown leads and lost opportunities are not all on Doc — every player deserves some level of blame, too — but just because old mistakes keep popping up, does not mean we can ignore a god-awful coaching job. It can be a roster problem and a coaching problem at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive.

Since his title run in 2008, Rivers has done nothing to prove he can coach at the highest level in the modern era. He is a strong offensive mind and not a bad coach by any stretch, but he has such overwhelming flaws that have been taken advantage of many times over the past two postseasons. The Clippers fired him for a reason, and frankly, why should the Sixers wait? What about this run would leave optimism that next season is different, even if Simmons is gone and the bench recalculated?

Rick Carlisle, Mike D’Antoni, Sam Cassell, et al — there are great coaches, old and new, ready for an opportunity. Doc will keep his job because ownership has money to save and Simmons-shaped excuses to make, but Rivers should go.