The Doc is In

Sometimes, it takes fate to bring a championship team together. Sometimes, a shakeup turns into harmony. Sometimes, a new voice can provide enlightenment to the point that other members of the organization raise the level of their effort. Sans the flowery descriptions, Glenn "Doc" Rivers has experienced many of these things over his career on the bench.

During his first stint as a head coach, he helped keep Orlando viable. After Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway left the Magic, there was the possibility that the franchise would see a swoon that would take years to recover from. After Chuck Daly's two-year stint in central Florida, Rivers came in and kept the team in playoff appearances, with three berths in four years. While some fans don't think that's the best way to push toward championship contention, the alternative hasn't really worked out (the Magic missed the postseason for six straight years after firing Stan Van Gundy in 2012).

This takes us to the "shakeup" philosophy. This season should have provided a sense of deja vu for the coach. Heading into the 2007-2008 season, Rivers didn't have a ton of playoff success. In four previous tries, his teams never made it out of the first round.

However, in the previous offseason, the front office performed a virtual coup. The Celtics traded for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, teaming them with established vet Paul Pierce. Once Garnett and Allen showed up in Celtic green, though, the dynamics changed. The coach had to shift from developing young teams to managing a star-laden squad with veteran egos attached. It worked to the tune of that title in 2008 and another NBA Finals appearance in 2010.

Becoming the Clippers' coach in 2013 meant Rivers had to dig into both of these philosophies. First, he would be the new voice seeing over an established core. The Lob City roster that included Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan stayed successful during the regular season, but couldn't get over the postseason hump before breaking up the core.

When the Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard and traded for Paul George, the franchise hoped that Rivers could summon the magic of that 2008 title run. The team was already deep with talented role players and ready for a couple of upper-level talents to guide them to the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Unfortunately, another brutal postseason collapse (the third time the coach lost a 3-1 series lead in his coaching career) led to enough unrest that the leader found himself out of a job.

Now, less than a week after being pushed out in L.A., Rivers is signing on with the franchise that is "The Broken Process." Philadelphia's own philosophy over the past few years has bore some fruit. But it's also stalled out. Many of the pieces ingratiated during the era (Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Dario Saric, Markelle Fultz) are gone.

And while Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are the lynchpins of the current roster, other teams have shot by them. Milwaukee sports an MVP. Boston (who beat them this year and two years ago) has been to three of the last four Eastern Conference Finals. Toronto (who beat them last year) won the title in 2019. There's also rumblings of discord between the two stars and evidence that their health isn't quite the best.

Now, in comes Doc Rivers to see if he can pull the most out of this batch of talent on the Sixers' roster (or, if necessary, reconfigure it to make it more championship-worthy). We now have the beginnings to a story. A championship coach with postseason baggage looking to redeem a flawed project with promise. Sometimes, it takes fate to bring a championship team together. The Sixers hope that fate has found them in the form of a Doc.

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