Mike Sielski: The Sixers will have some issues with their coaching hire. Especially the guy from Wildwood.

Mike Sielski, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Basketball

William Shakespeare once wrote, “What’s past is prologue.” Over the four centuries since, that line has become a popular cliché, and the reason that it has become a popular cliché is that it’s often true. Of course, “The reason it’s a cliché is that it’s true” has also become a popular cliché. I don’t have a good explanation for that one, and I’m glad I don’t, because in Philadelphia, we don’t have time to hurl ourselves into an endlessly spinning and self-perpetuating void of language theory. We have important matters to address. Like the 76ers’ search for a new head coach.

Doc Rivers’ past was definitely prologue for his three years here. He arrived having won a championship with the Celtics in 2008 but carrying a reputation as a coach whose teams failed to finish off playoff series that they ought to have won. Sure enough, in 2021, the Sixers were heavily favored over the Atlanta Hawks in the conference semifinals, took a two-games-to-one lead, took an 18-point lead in Game 4 and a 26-point lead in Game 5 … and lost the series. Then, just this month, the Sixers took a three-games-to-two lead on the Celtics and held a two-point lead with 4½ minutes to go at home in Game 6 … and lost the series. Rivers, in turn, lost his job.

Each of Rivers’ potential replacements has his or her own history and baggage. Likewise, the Philadelphia market has some traits and trends that can make coaching the Sixers particularly challenging. So in the interest of honesty and openness, let’s lay everyone’s cards on the table (another awesome cliché) and explore how the past could be a prologue or a preface or a preview of the Sixers’ future.

Mike Budenholzer

From a big-picture perspective, Budenholzer would seem a terrific choice. Anybody who can win 60 games in a season with the Hawks, then guide the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA championship in 50 years, has a resumé that speaks for itself. But there’s long been a caveat with Budenholzer: He has not been as successful as he could have been, in part because of his unwillingness or inability to make the sorts of in-game adjustments and instinctual decisions that might help his team.

Reporter: The Heat went on a 27-0 run there in the fourth quarter, and you never called timeout. Why?


Budenholzer: We don’t need to waste a timeout there. We need to be able to pull ourselves out of those situations.

Reporter: But Joel Embiid fell to the court.

Budenholzer: I know.

Reporter: And didn’t get up for six minutes.


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