This decision follows the 76ers’ disappointing loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Despite holding a 3-2 series lead, Philadelphia failed to capitalize and was ultimately eliminated from the postseason.
During the game, the Celtics dominated the second half, outscoring the 76ers 57-36. The 76ers’ offensive struggles were evident as they recorded only 10 points in the third quarter, tying an NBA shot-clock era record for the fewest points scored in a postseason quarter. Adding to their woes, they also lost Game 6 at home after being outscored 24-13 in the fourth quarter.
Rivers had been at the helm of the 76ers for three seasons. However, the team faced consistent elimination in the Eastern Conference semifinals each year, despite having a roster led by the league MVP and five-time All-NBA center, Joel Embiid. Notably, this marked the 76ers’ second Game 7 loss in three seasons under Rivers. In the 2021 conference semifinals, they were defeated by the Atlanta Hawks in Game 7, even though they entered as the No. 1 seed in the East.
Throughout his coaching career spanning 24 seasons, the 61-year-old Rivers has served as head coach for the Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers, and the 76ers. He achieved the Coach of the Year award in 2000 with the Magic and secured an NBA championship with the Celtics in 2008. Rivers also guided the Celtics to the NBA Finals in 2010, and his last conference finals appearance was in 2012 with Boston, where they were defeated by the eventual champions, the Miami Heat.
During his seven-year tenure as head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, Rivers failed to lead the team to the Western Conference finals, despite having star players like Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan for a significant portion of his coaching stint. With the recent Game 7 loss, Rivers’ record in such decisive games stands at 6-10, making him the coach with the most Game 7 losses in NBA history. Remarkably, his teams have now suffered five consecutive Game 7 defeats.
Rivers joins the list of coaches who have been dismissed this postseason following underwhelming playoff runs. The Milwaukee Bucks parted ways with head coach Mike Budenholzer after their first-round exit at the hands of the Miami Heat, despite being the No. 1 seed in the East. Budenholzer led the Bucks to an NBA championship in 2021 but fell short of reaching the NBA Finals in his other four seasons, despite having two-time MVP and seven-time All-NBA player Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the roster.
The Phoenix Suns also made a coaching change by firing head coach Monty Williams after their second-round loss to the Denver Nuggets. Williams had guided the Suns to the NBA Finals once in his four-year tenure and was recognized as the NBA Coach of the Year after the 2021-22 season. However, the team failed to advance to the conference finals this year, despite making a midseason trade to acquire Kevin Durant. This decision came under the ownership of first-year owner Mat Ishbia.