Despite the fact that the Philadelphia 76ers are up 2-0 in their NBA Playoffs first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers clearly isn’t happy about how the first two games have been officiated by the referees. In particular, Rivers is ranting about how the game officials have been missing a ton of foul calls on Philly superstars Joel Embiid and James Harden — at least in his own eyes.
Speaking to the press ahead of Game 3 on Thursday, Rivers expressed his discontent with how the referees have been turning a blind eye, so to speak, to the physicality against Embiid and Harden:
“I don’t wanna sound like I’m campaigning, but I am,” Rivers said, via Nets beat reporter Erik Slater of ClutchPoints. “James and Joel do lead the league in missed calls as far as fouls. They get fouled the most, and that’s not a Sixers stat by the way. I’m just saying.”
Doc Rivers on officiating of James Harden and Joel Embiid:
“I don’t wanna sound like I’m campaigning, but I am. James and Joel do lead the league in missed calls as far as fouls. They get fouled the most, and that’s not a Sixers stat by the way.”
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) April 20, 2023
Doc clearly isn’t happy with the missed foul calls on Embiid and Harden, and the Sixers shot-caller wasn’t shy about stating his claim. Rivers has been in the league for many years now, and he has mastered the art of taking veiled shots — at least for the most part. This is probably what you can consider a safe way to blast the officiating without getting himself in trouble (ie, a hefty fine from the NBA).
Nevertheless, what Doc Rivers has done here is shine a light on the officiating for Game 3 and beyond. At this point, fans (and perhaps the referees as well?) will likely be drawn to pay more attention to the contact Embiid and Harden take throughout the contest.