The Philadelphia 76ers have parted ways with head coach Doc Rivers following the team’s chastening Eastern Conference Semifinals defeat to the Boston Celtics, the team announced on Tuesday.
“Doc is one of the most successful coaches in NBA history, a future Hall of Famer, and someone I respect immensely,” Daryl Morey, Sixers President of Basketball Operations, said in a statement.
“We’re grateful for all he did in his three seasons here and thank him for the important impact he made on our franchise.
“After having the chance to reflect upon our season, we decided that certain changes are necessary to further our goals of competing for a championship.”
The 76ers were comfortably swept aside by the Celtics in Game 7 on Sunday, losing 112-88 thanks largely to a horror show from star duo Joel Embiid and James Harden.
While Rivers no doubt deserves his portion of the blame – he now possesses an uninspiring 6-10 record in Game 7s – fans will likely be pointing to the failures of Embiid and Harden as the root cause of their early exit.
Harden, who has a track record of not performing to the best of his abilities in crunch playoff games, scored just nine points on 3-of-11 shooting to cap off a series in which he also posted 12, 16, 17 and 13 points in games.
Embiid, meanwhile, scored just 15 points on Sunday – the second time in the series he posted that lowly figure – on 5-of-18 shooting, as his threat was largely nullified by the 36-year-old Al Horford.
For those NBA or Denver Nuggets fans feeling aggrieved that Embiid was named MVP over Nikola Jokic, it may be some consolation that the Cameroonian had one of the most disappointing postseason performances of any MVP in league history.
After averaging 33.1 points per game during the regular season, Embiid averaged just 23.7 points per game in the playoffs, the largest drop off in points from any MVP in NBA history, per ESPN, while he also remains the only MVP to have never reached a conference semifinal.
In his three seasons with the Sixers, Rivers guided the team to a 154-82 regular season record and 20-15 postseason record, losing in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in each season.
Rivers joins a growing number of head coaches to have been dismissed by NBA teams recently, including Monty Williams, Mike Budenholzer and Nick Nurse.