The Philadelphia 76ers were up 3-0 in their first-round playoff series against the Toronto Raptors going into Game 4 last Saturday.
Similar to their last first-round playoff series, the Sixers couldn’t close out in four games. When the Sixers dropped their Game 4 matchup against the Washington Wizards last postseason, they sealed the deal in the next matchup to advance to the next round.
Unfortunately, they didn’t see similar results this time around. After falling short to the Raptors on Saturday, the Sixers returned home to host the Toronto Raptors for Game 5 on Monday night. Despite being the healthier team, the Sixers couldn’t overcome a Fred VanVleet-less Raptors team.
When the Sixers dropped Game 5 on Monday, the loss marked the seventh loss out of the last eight games a Doc Rivers-led team fell short when the opponent was facing elimination, according to ESPN.
As the Sixers prepare for their Game 6 matchup in Toronto on Thursday night, Doc Rivers sounded off on the recent criticism he’s been facing, urging reporters to “tell the whole story” regarding his past postseason struggles.
Rivers Claps Back
“My Orlando team was the eighth seed,” said Rivers. “No one gives me credit for getting up against the Pistons, who won the title. That was an eight 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.'”
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Rivers took it way back to his first head coaching job with the Magic, which occurred in the early 2000s. Then, he addressed previous playoff shortcomings when he was coaching the Los Angeles Clippers following a stint in Boston.
“The Clipper team 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,” said Rivers.
While Rivers believes that the two circumstances he previously mentioned had the odds stacked against him, he addressed one of his most recent infamous playoff collapses, which occurred during his final season as the Clippers’ head coach.
“The last one, to me, is the one we blew,” he continued. “That’s the one I said, ‘We blew that.’ And that was in the bubble. Anything could happen in the bubble. There’s no home court. Game 7 would have been in L.A., but it just happened.”
While Rivers got defensive over his previous playoff losses on Wednesday afternoon, the head coach doesn’t want to dwell on any of that. Instead, he just wants the Sixers to take care of business on Thursday, so he doesn’t have to re-visit the topic.
“I would say with me, some of them is I got to do better always. Always take my own responsibility,” Rivers concluded. “Then some of it is circumstances happen. This one, let’s win it, and we won’t have to talk about it.”
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.