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Doc Rivers really isn’t here for even more talk about his blown 3-1 series leads.
The 76ers coach is the only coach in NBA history to have more than one loss after taking a 3-1 series lead in the postseason — something Philadelphia is trying to avoid heading into Game 6 on Thursday against the Toronto Raptors.
In fact, Rivers has done it three times.
“It’s easy to use me as an example,” Rivers said on Wednesday. “But I wish y’all would tell the whole story with me, all right?”
Rivers has blown a 3-1 lead three times in his career, first with the Orlando Magic in 2003 against the Detroit Pistons. He then did it twice with the Los Angeles Clippers, first in 2015 against the Houston Rockets and then again in 2020 against the Denver Nuggets inside the NBA’s COVID-19 bubble at Walt Disney World.
Rivers had a defense for all of them.
"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. 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 the first two games, and was playing on one leg, and we didn't have home court. And then the last one, 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 ... 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."
In Rivers’ defense, he’s right about all three of those series. His logic surrounding those blown leads is sound and at least understandable.
But now in 2022, that doesn’t matter much. Rivers has still lost a 3-1 lead three times, any way you look at it.
Will Doc Rivers blow another 3-1 lead in 2022?
A blown 3-1 lead doesn’t occur very often.
It’s only actually happened 13 times in NBA history — meaning about 23% of them belong to Rivers.
The Raptors, however, have won two straight heading into Thursday night, and are climbing out of a 3-0 hole. They beat Philadelphia 110-102 in Game 4, and then won by 15 points in Game 5.
If momentum is a real thing, the Raptors undoubtedly have it.
While a win at Scotiabank Arena would abruptly end any talk of Rivers’ past issues, a loss would only amplify them headed into Game 7.
"Being up 3-0, especially 3-0, I would say that [teams feel differently]," Rivers said, via ESPN. "A lot of teams don't win those games. The Celtics are the only one that won that game [in the first round of this year's playoffs]. Everyone else lost that game.
"From a coaching standpoint, you hate that, because you feel like, 'Let's just take care of it.' Then you get to Game 5 the other night and they played better. We didn't play well. We didn't play with a sense of urgency. So clearly now, I think both teams have kind of served notice and both teams have the other team's attention.
"If you don't have that, then we're all in trouble."