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Philadelphia 76ers

Doc Rivers ready to unlock Philadelphia 76ers' potential, says Simmons, Embiid combo 'clearly works'

The Philadelphia 76ers introduced new head coach Doc Rivers today, telling reporters how excited he is to get to work with his new squad. "I love the pieces here," Rivers said. "This team is loaded."

While Rivers admitted he was looking forward to taking a break after he parted ways with the Clippers following their second-round exit, he says couldn't resist the opportunity to take charge of Philly's talented roster, including their All-Star duo in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

"I love coaching," Rivers said. "I absolutely love it. But I was not just going to coach anybody, I can tell you that. I was ready to take a break. It just depended on the team that was available, and if I thought that team in my opinion was ready to win, and excited me.

"When Elton [Brand] called, it was an easy get on the plane and take a look for me. When you look at these young players and their potential, the fact that they've had so much success in some ways at the ages that they are already, and where I believe they can go, for me, it was a job that I just couldn't turn down."

Coming off a disappointing first-round exit to the Boston Celtics, the 76ers are desperate for playoff success, with their development largely riding on the fortunes of Simmons and Embiid.

The two talented franchise cornerstones have not always been an ideal fit alongside each other, but Rivers is confident he can unlock their potential and more importantly convert that into winning basketball.

"They've won 65 percent of the games they've played in," Rivers said of Embiid and Simmons. "It clearly works when they play together. ... I don't get lost in the minutia. I don't get lost in what position guys play. I look at how many points we score as a team. I don't care how we score. My teams have always been very good offensively, and we score points, and we score points in a lot of different ways.

"This team is loaded with talent. We just have to figure out how to make it work best. But just looking at the numbers, when [Embiid and Simmons] play together, they win 65 percent of the games they play in. That's a good thing.

"I love the pieces here. I love what we have to work with, and with Elton [Brand] I am looking forward to turning this into a championship team."

With Simmons and Embiid leading the way, the 76ers have made the playoffs in each of the past three seasons, but a combination of injuries, inconsistency, and at times a lack of cohesion has seen them fail to advance beyond the second round.

Rivers has only missed the playoffs once in the past 13 seasons and brings with him a 943-681 record (.581) over his 21 seasons as a head coach. His 943 wins rank second all-time among active coaches and the 58-year-old is relishing the opportunity to make a championship run with his talented, versatile squad.

"This team has great size, great athleticism, great multi-positional players. I think that is new, I think that is the new wave," Rivers added. "What I do like, from afar, is this team has the ability to morph in three or four different lineups that can create problems for other teams. That's something we will definitely do here."

Along with working with Simmons and Embiid, Rivers will be re-uniting with Tobias Harris, who he coached when he was a member of the LA Clippers.

Rivers coached Harris for 87 games across two seasons between 2018-19, where Harris enjoyed the most productive stretch of his career, averaging 20.3 points and 7.2 rebounds on 42.6% from the 3-point line.

"I love coaching him," Rivers said of Harris. "I like that he's a multi-positional player. He's a big three, he's a quick four. That's how we used him a lot in L.A. We kept moving him back and forth to different spots. I love his shot. He has a great in-between game, which is sometimes lost in today's game. And I think he's a terrific straight-line driver."

Harris has yet to reach those same heights in Philadelphia, averaging just 15.8 points per game during the 2019-20 playoffs, however, Rivers says to expect to see him playing more in the pick-and-roll, which saw him shine for the Clippers.

"In L.A., we put him [Harris] in more pick-and-rolls than I think he's ever been in in his entire life, and we had some success with that," Rivers said. "Pick-and-rolls to me are all about combinations. You put the two combinations together, you create problems defensively for the other team, and Tobias can do that. So, I'm really looking forward to working with him again."

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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