“Said baby boy you’re only funky as your last cut,
You focus on the past, your ass will be a ‘has what’...”
—Andre 3000, “Rosa Parks”
Oh, boy. Where do we start?
Once upon a last season, I branded the Los Angeles Clippers—who have since gone on to redeem themselves this year—the Temecula Clippers because these sonsabitches not only completely fucked off a 3-1 series lead in their Western Conference Semifinals matchup against the Denver Nuggets, but they did so in spectacular fashion.
Armed with a roster that looked like a fantasy basketball wet dream or a Death Row Records posse cut, the Clippers proceeded to squander a 16-point lead in Game 5, a 19-point lead in Game 6, and a 12-point lead in Game 7 (only to lose by 16 points) in one of the most egregious examples of squandered potential since Can-I-Bus.
At the wheel of this trainwreck was Doc Rivers; and because those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it, here we are a year later and this nigga done Doc Rivers-ed again in an entirely new zip code.
Rivers was infamously exiled from the Clippers kingdom in October following their epic collapse, and now he can update his resume with the following bullet points:
- Lost to a grossly inferior team I had no business losing to in the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
- Fucked off an 18-point lead and 26-point lead in separate games during the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
- Choked the shit out of Ben Simmons in the locker room.
But while Doc’s recent history at the helm is troubling, he’s been pissing off our ancestors by hosting free series lead giveaways for a hot minute now:
He also has a 6-9 record in Game 7s, a love affair with shitty rotations, and a jaw-dropping 29 Ls when his teams have the opportunity to close a playoff series (the most in NBA history). But at least he’s honest, as evidenced by this gem he dropped last night prior to updating his professional references on Indeed:
Who is Ben Simmons, you ask? I’d happily introduce him if I could find him. But sadly, he’s nowhere to be found—especially in the fourth quarter.
During the entire seven-game series, Mr. Three-Time All-Star took a grand total of three shots against Atlanta in the fourth quarter. In seven damn games!!!!!!!! Mr. $30-Plus-Million-a-Year also looked petrified every time he touched the ball toward the end of each game because he wanted no parts whatsoever of drawing contact and going to the free-throw line, where he spent the entire series laying enough bricks to build just about anything but his confidence.
One of the most mystifying examples of this phenomenon occurred when Simmons passed up a wide-open dunk with three minutes remaining in the game:
That play was so mind-boggling that Embiid had no choice but to call a thing a thing during his post-game press conference: “I’ll be honest. I thought the turning point was when we—I don’t know how to say it—but I thought the turning point was just we had an open shot and we made one free throw.”
So where do the Sixers go from here?
Well, after they decide if they want to move forward with Rivers (in my humble opinion Doc deserves to stay since this is only his first offense in The City of Brotherly Love), they need to have a come to Jesus meeting with Simmons. His otherworld defense is cute, but his literal fear to shoot the damn ball has been killing Philly’s offense for an eternity. More specifically, it allows defenders to pressure his teammates into forced turnovers (Embiid had eight alone last night) due to the glaring lack of floor spacing. His presence also forces people like Embiid to play on the perimeter wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy more than they would if Simmons could make a damn jumper.
They need to lock this dude in the gym with a shooting coach until his arms fall off and find him a sports psychologist post-haste. He’s been virtually the same player since his rookie year, with next to no growth in his game, and with Embiid’s knees on borrowed time at only 27 years old, Philly’s championship window is drawing to an end faster than Insecure.
But even if Simmons goes Super Saiyan and comes back a dramatically improved player next season, is Doc Rivers the guy to bring the best out of this roster?
History says otherwise, but I’d love nothing more than for him to finally prove his detractors wrong.