The Doc Rivers Era in Philly has come to the place it was always headed -- a painful end after a disappointing playoff run and a final conclusion so self-evident it's painful to think of the years the Sixers squandered under his leadership.
That Rivers was never the right person for the job, and this listless, weak, humiliating end to another promising season was what the Sixers were always likely to find at the end of a Doc Rivers-coached season.
That was true the day he was hired. It's certainly true now, in the wake of that 112-88 Game 7 thumping at the hands of the Boston Celtics Sunday. I wasn't joking when I said, a few days ago, that the Celtics had Doc Rivers and the Sixers just where they wanted them when they were down 3-2.
Remember: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to get a different result. That's why the Sixers' decision to hire Rivers in the first place was insane, and it's why keeping him on would have been even crazier.
And so, on Tuesday, after three seasons, the Philadelphia 76ers fired Doc Rivers.
The announcement technically qualifies as news, though it does not feel the least bit surprising. This experiment has been painful and, for Sixers' fans, frustrating. The truth of theisn't new. That this organization hired him two-and-a-half years ago before hiring his boss, Daryl Morey, the team's president of basketball operations, which means the guy in charge of basketball operations has had to wait several seasons to have his own coach. Well, no need to wait any longer.
And for those who may question why, get ready, the stats are stunning.
Rivers' teams had blown multiple 3-2 series leads in his career, as they did, yet again, in his last series against the Celtics. In the entire history of the NBA there have been 13 blown 3-1 series leads, and Rivers was on the wrong sideline for three of them. That does not apply this year, of course, because Rivers' Sixers were up 3-2, not 3-1, but we'll get to that.
He is now 6-10 in Game 7s, which is by far the most losses for a coach in NBA history. Ten. That, clearly, is very, very bad.
His teams are now 17-33 in games in which they had a chance to clinch a playoff series, which is a brutal 34 percent win rate. It is also, again, by far the most losses for a coach in such a scenario in NBA history.
And about being up 3-2, Rivers now has four series losses when up by that count, making for seven times his teams have been up 3-2 or better and yet couldn't close the deal. It's hard to see how that could happen that many times even if you were trying to lose these things.
Teams under great pressure often take on the personality and vibe of their head coaches. And for Rivers' teams, we've seen some truly underwhelming moments in these kinds of games -- including, again, on Sunday.
Joel Embiid was 5 of 18 for 15 points.
James Harden was 3 of 11 for nine points.
The Sixers shot 37.3% from the field, a horrid 21.6% on threes, were out-rebounded, out-hustled and out-worked.
Sometimes things are so obvious saying them aloud or writing them in a column seems almost insulting to the intelligence of those listening and reading, but let's say it again anyway, even if it's self-evident to the point of silliness: Doc Rivers should not have remained as coach of this team.
There is -- or was, depending on what Harden does this postseason -- a well-made mix for a championship run here. Embiid won his first MVP. Harden showed glimpses of greatness mixed with the same confounding postseason awfulness, including in this Game 7. PJ Tucker is a legitimate spark, if someone like Doc isn't there to douse the rest of the ingredients. Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris, in the right hands, can be key contributors.
Plus, Joe Mazzulla, Boston's rookie head coach, was clearly learning on the job and over his head early in this series. And in Game 6, with Philly at home and a win away from a conference finals berth, Jayson Tatum started off 1 of 14.
No matter. The Celtics prevailed anyway.
The Phoenix Suns have inexplicably moved on from Monty Williams, who would be a perfect fit in Philly. Nick Nurse and Mike Budenholzer are on the market, too, and while they're expected to land in Milwaukee and Phoenix, respectively, those deals aren't yet done.
The Sixers' hopes ended a few years ago when they hired Doc Rivers in the first place.
And while Sunday was a bad day for Philadelphia, Tuesday produced the first step on what should be the road ahead -- the opportunity to go find a coach who can actually win key playoff series this decade. The move will likely turn out to be the best thing to happen to the Sixers in a very long time.