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76ers' Doc Rivers Slams Narrative About Blown 3-1 Playoff Series Leads

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIApril 27, 2022

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 25: Head coach Doc Rivers of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts in the third quarter against the Toronto Raptors during Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round at Wells Fargo Center on April 25, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers does not care for the narrative associating him with blown 3-1 playoff series leads.

Rivers has overseen teams who have lost 3-1 series edges on three occasions, but he asked reporters to look at each situation on a case-by-case basis (h/t ESPN's Tim Bontemps).

NBC Sports Philadelphia @NBCSPhilly

Doc Rivers got a little defensive when discussing his past teams' collapses šŸ‘€ <a href="https://t.co/88PqjDDUZa">pic.twitter.com/88PqjDDUZa</a>

"My Orlando team [in 2003] was the eighth seed. No one gives me credit for getting up against the [Detroit] Pistons, who won the title [in 2004]. That was an eighth seed. I want you to go back and look at that roster. I dare you to go back and look at that roster. And you would say, 'What a hell of a coaching job.' Really.
"I mean, the Clipper team [in 2015] that we lost 3-1, Chris Paul didn't play in the first two games, and was playing on one leg, and we didn't have home court. And then the last one [when the Clippers lost to the Denver Nuggets in 2020], to me, is the one we blew. That's the one I took. We blew that. And that was in the bubble. And anything can happen in the bubble. There's no home court. Game 7 would have been in L.A.
"But, it just happens. So I would say with me, some of them is...I gotta do better always. I always take my own responsibility. And then some of it is, circumstances happen. This one, let's win it, and we don't have to talk about it."

Rivers is the only coach in NBA history to oversee more than one team that has lost a 3-1 playoff series lead.

No team has ever blown a 3-0 lead, but Rivers' 76ers are in danger of doing that after losing back-to-back games to the Toronto Raptors in their ongoing first-round playoff series.

Game 6 is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. ET in Toronto.

All signs pointed to an easy series win after 76ers center Joel Embiid hit a game-winning three-pointer with seven-tenths of a second left in a 104-101 overtime win in Game 3.

However, news soon emerged following the game that Embiid suffered a right thumb injury. An MRI revealed a torn ligament.

Embiid has gutted it out over the past two games and played 39 minutes apiece in Games 4 and 5. However, the thumb injury has appeared to have an effect on his play.

The NBA MVP candidate averaged 27.7 points on 51.0 percent shooting and 13.0 rebounds per game in his first three contests versus the Raps. He's averaged 20.5 points on 45.2 percent shooting and 9.5 rebounds in his last two games.

Meanwhile, James Harden's late-season struggles have continued into the playoffs. He's shooting just 37.3 percent from the field alongside 18.4 points per game. 

Elsewhere, the bench production (11 points in a 103-88 Game 5 loss) simply hasn't been there. The 76ers also haven't found an answer for Pascal Siakam, who dropped 34 points in Game 4 before adding a near-triple-double (23 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists) in Game 5.

Now the series shifts back to Toronto. If the Raptors win Game 6, then the 76ers and Raps will play Game 7 on Saturday in Philadelphia.