Doc Rivers has yet to coach a game for the Philadelphia 76ers, but that hasn’t stopped him from worrying about how the NBA will end the 2020-21 season amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic .
“Dude, I’m telling you I’m very worried if we can get it done,” Rivers said Tuesday as Philadelphia opened training camp. “Just watching football, in college, there are missing games in Ohio state, Pittsburgh and Baltimore can’t even play a game (in the NFL), they can’t make it, i hope they play wednesday now.
“The difference in football is that they play once a week. They have 1000 players, so when you are missing three or four players, you can still get away with it. If we miss three or four players, we have problems, especially with the number of games [we play]. We play three to four games a week. So if one of our guys, or two of our key guys, gets the virus and misses 10-14 days, it can be eight games. In a 72 game season, that can knock you out of the playoffs.
“It’s a concern, the health of our guys is a concern, and it’s difficult. As a coach you want to get into your main concerns being more basketball, and I think every coach’s concern right now is probably not basketball. ”
League teams opened player training at their facilities on Tuesday, three weeks before opening night. As a sign of the compactness of this offseason, the NBA ended last season in the bubble at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida on October 11, organized the draft less than two weeks ago and started the agency. free 10 days ago.
All of this – combined with the restrictions on workouts due to COVID-19 – is quite difficult for any trainer to manage. But for someone in the position Rivers is in, adjusting to the takeover of a new team, it becomes that much more difficult to manage.
“Taking a job during this year of COVID is brutal,” Rivers said. “I’m just going to say that. It’s brutal. And then make the changes, because we didn’t have the chance to be in the gyms with our guys. We can’t even put our stuff, and then you’ve got like a week-and a half, and you’re in [regular-season] action.
“We will make it as simple as possible. It clearly wouldn’t be what I would do if it were normal circumstances. It is what it is. Teams like Boston and Milwaukee and Miami, which are already ready, have an advantage.
“We’re okay with that, but we have to close the deficit, and we probably have to do it through work. ”
Some of this work will have to be done by Rivers himself – especially trying to figure out how to approach a training camp like he’s never been in. Not only will the schedule be compacted, but the length of time that Rivers can be on the pitch with his entire squad will be significantly reduced. Even things as simple as getting his team in shape will be more difficult under the current circumstances and will be part of a learning curve for Rivers with his new team – and for his new players with their new coach.
“It’s tough because your checklist will be cut in half,” Rivers said. “Instead of using a normal training camp, you would already have your checklist, part of it would be checked. Normal training camp, I would come on day one and know who’s fit and who isn’t. COVID Boot Camp, you don’t now, because right now all we can do is one-on-one things. [because] someone may appear to be in good shape and not be. ”
While things can be tough for Rivers, they’re going to be much, much more difficult for the rookies, who enter training camp without having played organized basketball for at least nine months, and who start their NBA careers. without benefiting from it. play in the Las Vegas Summer League to get a feel for what NBA games will be like.
Rivers joked that the veterans wouldn’t know about the team’s rookies – guards Tyrese Maxey and Isaiah Joe and forward Paul Reed – when they first speak.
“It’s tough with our rookies,” Rivers said. “They’re all over there now doing individual training. You know, it’s so separate right now. Just think of the first day of camp, our rookies probably won’t know the other players on the squad. When you think of it in those terms, it’s crazy and I guarantee you they won’t know them, you know, veterans.
“Dwight Howard and Joel (Embiid), they’re going to come in, ‘Who this guy? And, ‘Hey, my name is Maxey. ‘It’s going to be that kind of scene. And then as a coaching staff, you don’t wait. You are going there. So we’re going to throw these guys right into the fire. In a way, it could be good. They don’t think too much. And some will struggle. I think for this year’s rookies the mental toughness factor will be gigantic. ”