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February 09, 2023

Blake Griffin fires shot at Doc Rivers following Sixers loss: 'They didn't adjust, which has been sort of a thing'

Griffin, who played for Rivers in Los Angeles, did not mince words.

Blake Griffin's exit from Los Angeles five years ago left some pretty deep scars for the former Lob City leader, though we've rarely had to think about those in Philadelphia. After Wednesday's Sixers loss to the Boston Celtics, though, Griffin had a chance to take a shot at his former head coach, and he took the opportunity.

Some context: Griffin was Boston's starting center on Wednesday, filling in for a frontline missing Al Horford and Robert Williams III for the evening (among other starters). With Joel Embiid guarding him — or more accurately, Embiid actively ignoring him — Griffin got clean looks at  basically any jumper he wanted, knocking down five of his eight attempted threes to help the Celtics pick up a win.

Speaking to reporters after Boston's 106-99 victory over the Sixers, Griffin was asked about Philadelphia's strategy against him. He was mostly diplomatic about how they played him, but given a second chance, he had some venom for Rivers.

Reporter: What were you seeing out there to get you going?

Griffin: Just space. Honestly, when a team leaves you open like that, you just got to try to make them pay. I was shooting open shots all night, so it was nice to see some go through.

Reporter: Do you feel there was disrespect to leave you open like that?

Griffin: I don't really take it as disrespect. It hurt 'em, that was their gameplan. Obviously, Doc makes that game plan. They didn't adjust, which has been sort of a thing. No disrespect though.

I always love a good, "No disrespect" after clear disrespect is shown. 

There's obviously a personal grudge here that factors into Griffin's comment, but the barb hurts mostly because it's what so many other people (including many Sixers fans) are thinking. Rivers won Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for January and has the Sixers in relatively good standing in a tough East, but his playoff history ('08 Finals run aside) has enough blown leads and stubborn decision making to make fans skeptical of his ability to do this job. Griffin, obviously, was a part of that, playing a central role in one of the 3-1 series collapses on Rivers' resume, and then watched from afar as L.A. blew another 3-1 lead two years later, also under Rivers' watch.

Focusing more on this game, the decision to sag off of Griffin was certainly justifiable based on results this season. Griffin was shooting just 32.1 percent from deep this season, albeit on very limited reps, and the move would allow Philadelphia to leave Embiid hanging back toward the rim. But their inability to cope with the problem as Griffin got hot was one of just a few problems on Wednesday, all of which went unaddressed across four quarters.

Philadelphia's most important mistake was overhelping away from shooters all night, loading up on ballhandler Jayson Tatum in the middle of the floor. The Sixers succeeded in slowing down Tatum, who shot just 5-for-15 on Wednesday, but the Celtics turned the game into a shooting gallery, keeping the Sixers at bay with a huge night from deep. Deep into the game, the Sixers continued to overhelp in the middle of the floor, 

As good as the Sixers have looked at times this season, there is an overarching cloud of skepticism hanging over the team, and given the collective history, that's probably fair. Many are not willing to buy in on a team led by Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Rivers, given their respective struggles the deeper they go in the playoffs. Add on that the team seems to be in the mix for a small, tinkering move at the deadline rather than anything earth-shattering, and a loss like this one is going to sting for a bit.

You can watch the video of Griffin below:

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