There has been some buzz growing that not every 76ers player is a fan of coach Doc Rivers.
If James Harden wasn’t in that group already, he probably is now.
The 76ers could never pull away from the 20-win Pistons all night, then blew what lead they had in the fourth quarter and lost to Detroit 102-94. After the game, Rivers was asked if the bench was the problem when Philly blew its lead, and he threw Harden under the bus.
Doc isn't blaming the bench for the Sixers' loss tonight.
"It was more James than them." 😳 pic.twitter.com/3ANUm7sfr7
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 1, 2022
Harden finished the night with 18 points on 4-of-15 shooting, but was 1-of-8 in the second half with four points. It’s fair to wonder if his hamstring is still an issue, or if it is something else. Joel Embiid finished the night with 37 points and 15 rebounds.
We also all may be reading too much into this.
As somebody who was in the room, this isn't how I (or anybody else who was there) took this at all. We took it as Doc didn't finish/articulate his thought, that he was saying Harden was primary shot-taker when the bench players were on the floor. Bench was 0-for-5 in first half. https://t.co/Any3erCEly
— Gina Mizell (@ginamizell) April 1, 2022
Still, it feels like something bigger is off in Philly.
After a fast start with the 76ers, Harden has returned to playing closer to the level he played in Brooklyn. He has struggled late in games and it has hurt the Sixers in a couple of recent losses (such as to the Bucks). Rivers wasn’t wrong to call him out, but there are much deeper politics at play.
That is three straight losses for a 76ers team that has not looked like a contender hitting its stride before the postseason, in fact it’s been the opposite. If this team does not make a deep playoff run someone is going to take the fall for it, and whenever a new GM — Daryl Morey — is hired the sitting coach is on shaky ground, especially if said GM made a big trade he is convinced would make the team a contender.
On the other side of the court, Cade Cunningham continued his late push for Rookie of the Year with 27 points and six assists.