With his fifth 3-2 playoff lead squandering of his career, Doc Rivers is getting exposed as a very mediocre head coach, who simply knows how to play the media in his advantage, making it seem like his NBA championship was really about how good he really was.
In 2003, when he was the head coach of the Orlando Magic, Rivers managed to squander a 3-1 series lead against the Detroit Pistons. He was a young head coach back then, and I don’t think he imagined it would happen once more to him, 12 years later. He’s the only head coach to be on the sidelines of two teams that have given up such a lead in the playoffs.
As the Celtics head coach, it happened to him three times in four seasons. In 2009, the Celtics lost a 3-2 lead in the conference semifinals to the Orlando Magic. Celtics fans always whine about some injury happening in this or that series, but the more we distance ourselves from the actual events of those series and his tenure in Boston, the less impressive of a coach he looks like.
In 2010, the Celtics held a 3-2 lead over the Lakers in the finals. But in a bad series in terms of its basketball quality (although it had excellent drama), the Celtics fell into a two-game offensive lull, and eventually succumbed to Pau Gasol rising and carrying Kobe Bryant on his back.
In 2012, LeBron James got to beat the Boston Celtics for a second straight year. The Celtics had the Heat on the ropes with a 3-2 lead, and the feeling that the Miami Big Three were on the verge of breaking up. But James had a historic game 6. Boston never recuperated from that blow, and didn’t put up much of a fight in game 7.
This year? Rivers lost control of his team. They turned to wild basketball. Jamal Crawford did whatever he wanted. Players jacked up 3’s instead of trying to build up plays. Blake Griffin was dribbling the ball outside the paint; a turnover waiting to happen. And Rivers? He complained to officials a bit and let his son play when he shouldn’t have. Rivers the general manager didn’t help Rivers the coach with the terrible job he did of maintaining and developing his bench. And Rivers the coach needs a good general manager. He’s not that special on his own.