Doc Rivers' teams have consistently underachieved in the postseason in the last few years, which has led fans and analysts to question his credibility and reputation.
Doc Rivers - A constant failure or an unlucky genius?
Doc Rivers was touted for greatness when he led the Boston Celtics to a championship win in 2008, beating Kobe Bryant and the LA Lakers in the process. Rivers ended a 22-year Celtics championship drought and was instantly revered as one of the best coaches in the league. Such was Rivers' esteem that the LA Clippers parted ways with an unprotected 2015 NBA first-round draft pick to acquire his services.
Fast forward to today, Doc Rivers still has only one NBA championship against his name. Over the years, Rivers has coached some of the all-time greats in Chris Paul and Kawhi Leonard, apart from talented individuals like Paul George, Joel Embiid and Blake Griffin, but hasn't even been able to lead his teams to a NBA finals berth.
Rivers remained at the helm for 8 seasons with the LA Clippers from 2013-2020, overseeing a rebuild and two dynasties. He did some stellar work during the rebuild after the break-up of the 'Lob City era', but produced two underwhelming returns when the LA Clippers had world-beating teams.
A team with the likes of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, along with role players like DeAndre Jordan and JJ Redick, never reached the Conference finals, let alone won a championship. Injuries and controversies (Donald Sterling tape release) played a huge role in these playoff exits as well, but there were times when Doc Rivers looked completely out of fresh ideas even with the best talent in the league.
The Kawhi Leonard-Paul George's LA Clippers side faced similar struggles in the 2020 NBA playoffs as they crashed out of the second round despite leading the Denver Nuggets 3-1. The Clippers invested all their resources in putting this team together, but their season was a massive disappointment as the front office saw bitter rivals LA Lakers lift a record-tying 17th championship.
The 2021 NBA playoffs are another example of how Doc Rivers has consistently underachieved with great squads. Star center Joel Embiid had a terrific series against the Atlanta Hawks despite playing on a meniscus tear, but the no. 1 seed Philadelphia 76ers were unable to get past a five-seed underdog Atlanta Hawks side.
It is true that Doc Rivers has faced some poor injury-luck with the teams he has coached throughout the career. However, it is also true that he has shown resistance to making adjustments in the postseason, which has led to playoff disappointment time and again. He has 29 losses with a chance to clinch a playoff series, the most losses by a head coach in NBA history.
Doc Rivers's .341 win percentage is the worst of all time among coaches with 20+ games. On top of that, there is a concerning pattern that Doc Rivers' teams follow - his teams have constantly blown double-digit leads in the last two postseasons.
Doc Rivers has had a decent body of work in his career, but with the Philadelphia 76ers' 2021 playoffs exit, it is safe to say that the former Celtics coach is massively overrated.