Doc Rivers inherited a 76ers team with well-documented road woes.
In actual road games, excluding those in the NBA bubble, the Sixers had a disappointing 10-24 record last season. They lost 10 of their final 11 road games before the NBA shutdown in March due to the pandemic.
Once the league resumed in July, the Sixers were one of 22 teams competing in the NBA restart at Walt Disney World.
So Saturday’s matchup against the New York Knicks will mark their first game in an opponent’s arena since falling, 118-114, to the Golden State Warriors on March 7.
The Sixers (1-0) are looking to shape a new road identity, especially with three of their next games being on the road.
They’ll face the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Sunday. Then, after hosting the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday, the Sixers will face the Magic in Orlando Thursday.
“The only way you can get a new road identity is by winning,” Rivers said. “So we got to go win games like [Saturday’s] is what it is.”
The NBA season kicked off Tuesday. The Sixers opened their season Wednesday with a 113-107 home victory over the Washington Wizards. As expected, that game, like others around the league, was sloppy as teams are knocking off early-season rust.
“But at the end of the day, you got to find a way to win the games,” Rivers said. “And so we have to go out on this road trip with that mindset. Let’s win two games.”
In the process, the Sixers will look to get better performances out of Tobias Harris, Danny Green, and Seth Curry. The trio shot a combined 1-for-13 on three-pointers against the Wizards.
Harris had 10 points on 3-for-13 shooting. He missed all four of his three-pointers, but his foul shots gave the Sixers a 111-105 lead with 15 seconds left. Green had two points on 1-for-6 shooting. He also missed all four of his three-pointers and finished with a minus-27.
Curry had 13 points on 4-for-8 shooting overall but missed four of his five three-point attempts. The Sixers acquired him and Green in trades to provide sharpshooting.
The Knicks (0-1) acquired Rivers’ son, Austin, via a sign-and-trade from the Houston Rockets on Nov. 27. Austin Rivers was a high free-agent target of the Sixers before his father accepted the coaching job on Oct. 1. After getting the job, Doc Rivers advised the Sixers not to pursue his son.
Doc Rivers coached Austin for 3½ seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers.
“For Austin, it’s better,” Doc Rivers told the New York Post, of Austin playing for the Knicks instead of the Sixers. “He’s his own player. Unfortunately for him, me being the dad, he’s just an easy guy to target. I have felt since the separation, it’s been really good for him.’'
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau was one of Rivers’ assistant coaches during his coaching stint with the Boston Celtics. They won an NBA championship together in 2008.
Austin Rivers, a combo guard, missed Wednesday’s season-opening loss to the Pacers and all four of New York’s preseason games after suffering a right groin injury early in training camp. Austin Rivers did “a little bit” during Thursday’s light practice, and the Knicks aren’t giving a timetable for his return.
He’s following in his father’s footstep as a Knick. New York was one of the four teams for which Doc Rivers played during his 13-year career.
Former Sixers Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks are on the Knicks roster.