The NBA season is officially underway, with the Nets, Warriors, Lakers, and Clippers playing in the highly anticipated season-opening night. The Lakers are coming into this season with a big chip on their shoulder as champions, with everyone wanting to overtake their place. The first in line are the Clippers, who beat the Lakers in their first game behind Paul George‘s brilliant performance with 33 points and six rebounds.
There was a lot of criticism towards George, especially in the playoffs after his subpar performances, which eventually cost the team a potential final appearance. This summer also marked many changes within the team, predominantly the one replacing Doc Rivers with Tyronn Lue. Stories later surfaced in which the public found out the relationship between George and Rivers wasn’t the best. The main issue was that both had different views on how George was used on offense, especially in the playoffs.
In a recent interview for Los Angeles Times, Rivers said he wasn’t surprised by George s comments because he understands not everyone is supposed to like their coaches. Rivers is also accepting the blame for his struggles in the playoffs even though he argues that George never got so many pick-n-roll actions than in River’s playing system.
“I told someone the other day, I said, ‘Listen, everybody doesn’t love playing for me, and I’m fine with that.’ That doesn’t make them bad guys or good guys or whatever. I do my best, and if they like it. “And I joked and said, ‘Paul loved playing for me until the playoffs.’ If you look at his numbers, he got more pick and rolls than he had ever gotten in his entire career and he had his highest percentage in pick and rolls than he ever had when he was with me. Paul struggled in the playoffs. He struggled in the Dallas series. He needed somebody to blame, and I’m fine with that. Blame me. [Expletive], I can handle it.”Doc Rivers, via LA Times
Rivers also remembered the entire bubble experience calling it a disappointing time for the team because they thought they have what it takes to win it all. Unfortunately for them, they blew a 3-1 lead against the Nuggets, and it feels that loss had a substantial impact on the change of mindset of the entire organization.
“Last [season], that is the one that hurts, because we were up 3-1 and I thought we were the better team,” he said. “This last series, all of them were home games or road games. I don’t know what the hell the bubble was. But I left that series thinking we were the better team, and we didn’t perform. We had a lot of [stuff] going on. Pat Beverley couldn’t play more than three-minute stretches because of an injury. Trez [Montrezl Harrell] was never in shape, and all that stuff. And I really believe, in my heart, if there is no bubble, we would have at least played the Lakers” in the Western Conference finals.Doc Rivers, via LA Times
After coaching the Clippers for seven years, Doc Rivers is now facing a new challenge as a head coach for the Sixers, who seem to be in the right time and place to assert themselves as a legitimate title contender. They are young and hungry for success, and a team where Rivers knowledge and experience will prove to be useful to get them over the line hopefully.