CLEVELAND — Ben Simmons was unable to pinpoint only one thing that stands out about Doc Rivers.
“There’s a bunch of things,” the All-NBA point guard said about his new coach. “The one thing to me is he believes in us. He believes in everybody’s ability. And he’s not going to lie to you and say you can change what you can’t do.”
Simmons used Saturday night’s 109 -89 victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden as a personal example. Rivers told him to keep being aggressive and attack the rim. Listening to his coach, the fourth-year players finished with 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting to go with 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and a block.
“When I’m doing that, he’s giving me praise and letting me know I’m doing a good job,” Simmons said. “And that just gives me confidence to keep doing it and getting the rim and make plays for my teammates.
“But also, on the other side, he’s going to keep it real with you.”
Rivers doesn’t sugarcoat what his players need to work on. If he notices something in the game that a player isn’t doing, he’ll quickly share what he’s seeing. In his short time as coach of the Sixers, it’s already apparent that Rivers is focused on helping his players get better. Not just his star players. Simmons says Rivers does it with everyone.
“He’s vocal and everybody listens,” Joel Embiid said of the things that makes Rivers a good coach. “I mean, he’s just a good coach. ... We took a little bit of stuff [from] last year. But the stuff that he’s been drawing out of timeouts, it’s been working so far.
“So it’s been great.”