Doc Rivers, Philadelphia 76ers combating historical past of previous playoff collapses

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CAMDEN, N.J. — The Philadelphia 76ers practiced right here Wednesday morning forward of a return to Toronto for Recreation 6 of their Japanese Convention first-round playoff sequence in opposition to the Raptors on Thursday night time, midway to what could be an unprecedented collapse after taking a 3-0 lead on this best-of-seven sequence.

76ers coach Doc Rivers is the one coach to preside over a couple of loss after taking a 3-1 sequence lead — one thing that has occurred to him thrice in his profession. However when Rivers was requested about that playoff historical past Wednesday, he mentioned there is a want to return and verify the report.

“Effectively, it is easy to make use of me for instance,” Rivers mentioned after the staff completed follow. “However I want y’all would inform the entire story with me. All proper?

“My Orlando staff [in 2003] was the eighth seed. Nobody offers me credit score for getting up in opposition to the [Detroit] Pistons, who gained the title. That was an eighth seed. I need you to return and take a look at that roster. I dare you to return and take a look at that roster. And you’ll say, ‘What a hell of a training job.’ Actually.

“I imply, the Clipper staff [in 2015] that we misplaced 3-1, Chris Paul did not play the primary two video games, and was enjoying on one leg, and we did not have residence courtroom. After which the final one [when the Clippers lost to the Denver Nuggets in 2020], to me, is the one we blew. That is the one I took. We blew that. And that was within the bubble. And something can occur within the bubble. There is not any residence courtroom. Recreation 7 would have been in LA.

“However, it simply occurs. So I might say with me, a few of them is … I gotta do higher at all times. I at all times take my very own accountability. After which a few of it’s, circumstances occur. This one, let’s win it, and we do not have to speak about it.”

In 2003, Rivers and the Orlando Magic — led by future Corridor of Famer Tracy McGrady, who gained the scoring title that season — took that 3-1 lead on the top-seeded Pistons. It was the primary season the NBA went again to a best-of-seven first-round sequence. Famously, McGrady — who by no means made it out of the primary spherical of the playoffs till the tip his profession with San Antonio — mentioned after successful Recreation 4 to take that 3-1 lead, “It feels good to get within the second spherical.”

Detroit promptly gained the following three video games by a mixed 61 factors to really transfer on to the second spherical, then ultimately misplaced to the New Jersey Nets within the Japanese Convention finals earlier than happening to win an NBA title the following season.

In 2015, Rivers took that 3-1 lead on, coincidently, present 76ers star level guard James Harden and president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, each of whom have been then with the Houston Rockets, solely to lose the ultimate three video games of that sequence. That included a shocking collapse at residence in Recreation 6, when Houston outscored the Clippers 40-15 (principally with Harden watching from the bench) to show what was a 13-point deficit firstly of the quarter right into a 12-point victory, earlier than closing out the sequence in Recreation 7.

As Rivers mentioned, although, the loss in 2020 is probably the most memorable one. The Clippers — led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, whom they’d acquired the earlier summer season, and the decide by many to win the championship — took a 3-1 lead on the Nuggets, solely to blow double-digit leads in every of the ultimate three video games of the sequence to be despatched residence from the NBA’s bubble on the Walt Disney World Resort outdoors Orlando, Florida, in really surprising style.

Proper now, although, the 76ers are simply attempting to keep away from including to their already tough historical past. Simply final 12 months, the 76ers blew a 26-point lead in Recreation 5 of the Japanese Convention semifinal sequence with the Atlanta Hawks — earlier than once more dropping on their residence courtroom in Recreation 7 within the recreation by which Ben Simmons handed up an open dunk late within the fourth quarter, starting his path to leaving Philadelphia for good.

Thus far on this sequence, the 76ers routed Toronto within the opening two video games, snuck out an extra time victory behind Joel Embiid’s heroics in Recreation 3, then noticed the Raptors roughly management Video games 4 and 5. Rivers mentioned that it may be onerous for a staff to shut out one other staff however that after the way in which the sequence has shaken out, each groups know what they must do to win Recreation 6.

“Being up 3-0, particularly 3-0, I might say that [teams feel differently],” Rivers mentioned. “Loads of groups do not win these video games. The Celtics are the one one which gained that recreation [in the first round of this year’s playoffs]. Everybody else misplaced that recreation.

“From a training standpoint, you hate that, since you really feel like, ‘Let’s simply maintain it.’ Then you definitely get to Recreation 5 the opposite night time and so they performed higher. We did not play effectively. We did not play with a way of urgency. So clearly now, I feel each groups have type of served discover and each groups have the opposite staff’s consideration.

“If you do not have that, then we’re all in hassle.”

When requested what it would take to make issues go in a different way in Recreation 6, Rivers pointed to the tempo at which the 76ers performed — significantly offensively — within the first two video games and mentioned Philadelphia might want to get again to that if it desires to shut Toronto out and keep away from returning for a do-or-die Recreation 7 on Saturday night time.

“Effectively, I nonetheless assume the No. 1 factor is 63% of the time we took the ball out of bounds final recreation,” Rivers mentioned. “So which means 37% of the time you are simply bringing the ball up after a made basket or free throw or one thing. So clearly that must be higher.

“We now have to get extra stops, as a result of they do not run … they run after they can, however after they do not, they use the clock to 22 seconds. So then the sport is a slow-paced recreation and a half-court recreation. So the 2 issues: No. 1, we received to get extra stops; No. 2, after we get stops and even on scores, we received to play at a greater tempo. We’re strolling the ball up the courtroom.”

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