Doc Rivers defends bench unit after Sixers blow 21-point lead to Knicks


NEW YORK-The Philadelphia 76ers were sitting in the driver's seat on Sunday night up in New York. They got off to a terrific start as they led the Knicks by 21 and they 63.2% in the first quarter, but they were not able to hold the lead for long.

The Sixers inserted an all-bench unit of Tyrese Maxey, Shake Milton, Matisse Thybulle, Georges Niang, and Montrezl Harrell and the Knicks took advantage of that group. That unit couldn't get any stops and they couldn't keep up with the offense and New York rallied to win it 108-97.

"I didn't think they played any defense and they didn't pass to each other," coach Doc Rivers said of that unit's initial run.

The Sixers put the starters back in and they began to right the ship a bit as Philadelphia was able to rebuild that lead.

Philadelphia held a 79-76 lead entering the fourth before Rivers went bench to the all-bench lineup. Except, he put Paul Reed in place of Harrell. That unit wasn't much better as the Knicks seized control with that group out there.

"Because we've been good at that," Rivers explained when asked why he went back to the all-bench group. "Just because one half doesn't work, you don't vacate the unit. That's what guys do who lose a lot. So they didn't play well tonight. Honestly, I didn't think that's why we lost the game."

Rivers has a point. The bench unit was excellent in Friday's win over the San Antonio Spurs, but the Knicks are a big step up in competition.

Harrell was a minus-15 in three minutes as he had a rough night and Paul Reed was a minus-14 in eight minutes. Joel Embiid was a plus-18 in a game they lost by 11.

"I hate that the numbers look like it was the bench, it was everybody," Rivers added. "This wasn't just a bench loss. This was a team loss and I made that clear. We'll sit and look and we'll see minus-24 and plus-34s, our stars were in some of that too when (Evan) Fournier was making those shots, and so I just thought it was a team loss. I thought it was more mental and emotional than just playing basketball."

To Rivers' point, the Knicks did grab a ton of rebounds. They grabbed six offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter that were big backbreakers and Philadelphia just couldn't recover. Most of that was with Embiid in the game.

"The game is not just explained by plus-minus sometimes," Rivers stated. "It's more than that. Our starters came in, and we still had the lead. So I thought we were just not strong tonight. Mentally, I thought they were the mentally tougher team and they deserve to win."


Player grades: Knicks use team effort to hand Joel Embiid, Sixers road loss



Sixers' Furkan Korkmaz expresses desire to play amid trade rumors

Report: Sixers have called Pistons about acquiring big man Nerlens Noel

Report: Hawks join pursuit of Sixers defender Matisse Thybulle

Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire


More Related News

NBA playoff bracket: Updated league standings, odds to make NBA Finals
NBA playoff bracket: Updated league standings, odds to make NBA Finals

USA TODAY Sports is here with everything you need to know about the NBA playoffs, including odds and potential matchups as of March 27, 2023.

Sixers' Joel Embiid throws shade at analytics when discussing MVP race

Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid throws shade at analytics and numbers when discussing the MVP race.

PHOTOS: Best images from the Thunder
PHOTOS: Best images from the Thunder's 118-112 win over the Trail Blazers

The best photos from the Thunder's 118-112 win over the Trail Blazers on Sunday.

Philadelphia tap water safe to drink through Monday night after chemical spill, officials say
Philadelphia tap water safe to drink through Monday night after chemical spill, officials say

The recommendation was a precaution: No contaminants has been found in the drinking water since the spill late Friday night in Bucks County.

Philadelphia Officials Now
Philadelphia Officials Now 'Confident' Tap Water Is Safe To Drink After Chemical Leak

More than 8,100 gallons of a latex solution were released into a storm drain following an equipment failure at a manufacturing facility in Bristol.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Basketball