Doc Rivers joked that he’s an East Coast kid now.
He’ll definitely feel that way on Christmas Day while in New York enjoying the holiday with family.
“My family is all east, man. So it’s good,” the 76ers coach said following Wednesday’s practice.
Rivers spent the last seven seasons as the Los Angeles Clippers coach. One of the Sixers’ Nov. 18 draft-night moves involved acquiring Seth Curry from the Dallas Mavericks via a trade. Curry just happens to be Rivers’ son-in-law. Coaching his son-in-law enables Rivers to be around his daughter, Callie, and grandchild.
The New York Knicks acquired Rivers’ son, Austin, via a sign-and-trade from the Houston Rockets on Nov. 27. As a result, the family will spend Christmas with Austin ahead of Saturday’s Sixers game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Family members were scattered last Christmas. Rivers was coaching against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Rockets were playing at the Golden State Warriors, and the Mavericks hosted the San Antonio Spurs the next day.
Rivers pointed out that you have to be careful with gatherings during the pandemic. The good thing is that his family gets tested every day due to being in the NBA.
“So the fact that I get to spend Christmas with both grandkids” is nice, Rivers said. “Really, Seth, Callie and Austin, I don’t need to see them. But the fact that I get see my grandkids, man, come on, that’s the best.”
Howard, the shooting coach
Following Tuesday’s 113-107 victory over the Wizards, Ben Simmons and Dwight Howard took extra shots at one basket, while Matisse Thybulle did the same at the other one.
Simmons said it was something he needed to do and that Howard was pushing him to be great. The two worked on their three-point shot.
Howard, a center in his 17th season, has made 9-of-68 three-point attempts. Simmons, a fourth-year point guard, has made 2-of-24.
“That got me nervous, that Dwight was his shooting coach last night,” Rivers said jokingly. “So I’m going reassess my staff.”
But Rivers thought it was great that Simmons was out there putting in extra work with Howard.
People have looked at Howard in a lot of ways throughout his career. He was once recognized as one of the league’s most dominant players. He lost some of his luster while bouncing around the league.
“Then, last year was a resurrection for Dwight Howard,” Rivers said of Howard playing for the Lakers. “Like, he couldn’t get signed. And then he goes to the Lakers and wins a ring. And that Denver series [in the Western Conference finals], they don’t get to the [NBA] Finals without Dwight Howard.
“That’s changed Dwight, too.”
Howard learned what winning an NBA title looks like last season. Rivers said the fact that he can give some of that knowledge to Simmons and Joel Embiid is invaluable.