Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers has been named Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for the games played through December and January. The NBA announced the honors on Monday, with Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder winning in the Western Conference.
As the Sixers noted in their press release sharing the news, this is Rivers’ 12th Coach of the Month award in his career. Only Gregg Popovich has earned more, receiving the honor 17 times.
The Sixers may have had some struggles and dealt with various injuries and a wave of absences due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, but overall, they’ve gotten off to a really strong start with Rivers as their new head coach. They’re 1st place in the East at 15-6, and after starting the season with a weak schedule, they’ve had some impressive wins over the last week.
They defeated the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, 107-106, as Tobias Harris buried a game-winning jumper with two seconds left. On Sunday, the Sixers picked up their first win of the season without Joel Embiid, beating the Indiana Pacers, 119-110. Philly’s defense took over down the stretch with a well-executed 2-3 zone and they outscored Indiana 31-6 in the final 8 minutes to overcome a 16-point fourth quarter deficit. It was the Sixers’ best performance of the season without Embiid by far.
The Sixers currently rank 12th in offensive rating (111.2), 3rd in defensive rating (106.8) and 6th in net rating (+4.4). They’re also 11-0 when all of their starters play.
Obviously there’s room for improvement and it’s still early, but there are plenty of positives to take away from the first month of the season. From Joel Embiid playing at an MVP level, to the impact of new players like Seth Curry and Tyrese Maxey, to Ben Simmons coming into form and showing more aggressiveness lately, to Tobias Harris playing better than ever.
With the Sixers sitting at the top of the East, Doc Rivers’ Coach of the Month award is well deserved.