Doc Rivers’s legacy is rounding into form… just not in the way he would hope.
The Clippers lost to the Nuggets last night 104-89. After leading the series 3-1 and leading in games 4, 5, and 6 by 15+ points and blowing all of those leads (they won game 4), the Clippers were absolutely trounced last night, falling behind by 20 points in the fourth quarter.
Rivers has now blown a 3-1 lead THREE times in his career, two more times than any other coach ever has. NBA Twitter exploded last night with a cascade of receipts, memes, and jokes practically neverbeforeseen.
“I don’t see how you can beat that”
[insert Nikola Jokic] pic.twitter.com/o97M8niXwf
— pickuphoop (@pickuphoop) September 16, 2020
Doc does not deserve all of the blame, or even the jokes, really. It was Pat Bev and Marcus Morris talking smack all year, and a couple of the other cats who’d never won before but talked like they had.
WHAT AN EMBARRASSMENT BY THE CLIPPERS
Congrats to the Nuggets, but I truly can’t believe this.
Blown 3-1 lead, the third of Doc Rivers’ coaching career
Kawhi Leonard shot 6/22
Paul George shot 4/16
One of the biggest choke jobs in NBA history pic.twitter.com/uguV1moeoA
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) September 16, 2020
But the game is the game. And Doc’s legacy cannot be ignored any longer. How much more rope can ONE chip 12 years ago get you? Doc’s teams, after last night, will be largely remembered as ones that underperformed, and choked when it mattered most.
Playoff P? Kawhi Jordan?
Man get the *bleep out of here. You reap what you sow.
Only teams that have won before deserve that much benefit of the doubt.
— Laker Film Room (@LakerFilmRoom) September 16, 2020
It’s easier to be the hunter than it is the hunted. When those expectations come around, watch who’s able to weather the noise. Heavy is the head that wears the crown.
This is the first time in his career Kawhi Leonard had to actually LEAD a team. Not HOOP, lead. And don’t say he led Toronto, he was just the best player. Heavy is the head that wears the crown. For one year he experienced what LeBron has done for 15 years
— Tony Jones (@Tjonesonthenba) September 16, 2020
Doc Rivers is 58 years old. He has been the head coach for a team in the NBA in three decades now.
In 1999, he got his first gig with the Orlando Magic. That Magic team had Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill on it, and nearly had the opportunity to bring in Tim Duncan as well.
However, Rivers had a policy of not allowing players’ family members to come on the team plane, and that was all it took for the game’s greatest power forward ever to say bye to the Magic and resign with the Spurs.
But, still, the Magic had a superstar with McGrady leading the way. And in 2003, they were up 3-1 on the Detroit Pistons.
Fast forward a week? The Magic blew it, and Rivers was subsequently fired.
I’m not one to say I told you so… but I bleeping told you so! https://t.co/hU69k68Tam
— nick wright (@getnickwright) September 16, 2020
But Doc found himself in a cozy position when the historic Boston Celtics hired him, with superstar Paul Pierce on the team. Just a couple years later, the C’s were practically gifted Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in trades to fit alongside Pierce, and thus the first “Big Three” as we know it, was born.
The Celtics won the NBA championship in 2008, and only made it to the finals one more time, in 2010, when the team blew a 3-2 lead to the Lakers.
Listen to what HOF coach Phil Jackson said to his team during a timeout about their opponent.
“This team has lost more games in the fourth quarter than anybody in the NBA. They know how to lose in the fourth quarter. They’re just showing us that right now.”
After the Celtics nucleus got too old to compete, a rebuild was in order, and the C’s shipped Rivers to LA in a rare coach-trade that instantly made the Clippers a contender.
But this is a Clippers franchise that has NEVER EVEN made a conference finals. And in 2015, with a 3-1 lead against the Houston Rockets, the team absolutely collapsed and lost the next three games, spurred largely by runs when James Harden was on the bench.
That made two 3-1 leads blown for Doc, and with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and a more-than-solid supporting cast, the Clips had the better team. A Doc team underperforms, rinse and repeat.
But Doc Rivers it's time we had a talk bro. Jokic is looking like the greatest passing C of all time and you kept sending those weak ass doubles that he kept Magic Johnson HEE-HEEEE'ing out of for easy buckets. Bro please wear sunglasses when you check out tomorrow
— Aye throw that Boyz II Men on (@DragonflyJonez) September 16, 2020
This year was the chance for a fresh start. The reigning Finals MVP was now on board, with another two-way star in Paul George and 6th man of the year Lou Williams.
The Clippers no longer saw themselves as little brother to the Lakers in LA, and they barked louder than ever before like they were already a dynasty.
Narrator: It was not pretty much over pic.twitter.com/gIQrgVwe4m
— pickuphoop (@pickuphoop) September 16, 2020
Pat Beverley, Marcus Morris, every single other player besides Kawhi who has never won anything… humble yourself. Or more aptly, reflect on the fact that Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets just did that for you.
In an otherwise bleak time, NBA Twitter had a NIGHT, reveling in the failure of the team that crowned themselves champions before even making the conference finals.
Even Damian Lillard, who has a recent history of beef with the Clips, had a great time getting his jokes off.
Na he gone have them timbs on for the beach workout https://t.co/layfp6w4Iz
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) September 16, 2020
We deserved this night. You can’t cheat the system and test the basketball gods with load management and talking junk without backing it up. And the target the Clips put on their own back made the jokes all the more sweet. But most importantly after last night…
Doc Rivers… it’s time we had a conversation.