NBA Playoffs: Doc Rivers' allegiance to DeAndre Jordan could end Sixers' season

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Rivers' allegiance to Jordan could end Sixers' season originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

If DeAndre Jordan is the answer, what’s the question?

Sixers head coach Doc Rivers has made some smart moves during this postseason. Mixing in a zone in Game 6 against the Raptors was exceedingly effective. Getting Paul Reed significant minutes with the other four starters during the Toronto series, while resting Joel Embiid, worked very well.

But when forced into a decision to replace Embiid entirely, Rivers chose Jordan rather than Reed. Jordan is 33 years old, three years removed from his most recent solid season, and has been largely ineffective at both ends of the floor since signing with the Sixers in early March.

His ineffectiveness continued in Game 1 Monday night. He logged four points, two rebounds, two blocks, and a minus-22 during the 17:17 he was on the floor. That was just the tip of the statistical iceberg.

Reed played just 13:03 due to foul trouble, but was clearly more effective, pulling down nine rebounds – Jordan had two – including five on the offensive end, and adding four assists. Reed was a minus-3 for the game, but was a plus-4 over 100 possessions, compared to Jordan's minus-71.5.

While Reed is young, and still has plenty to learn, last night was the first significant playoff minutes for Jordan in five seasons. He is not the same player today than he was five years ago.

Perhaps the reason Rivers made his decision was Jordan's performance against the Heat in March, a game the Sixers won despite not having Embiid or James Harden in the game. Jordan played 25 minutes and pulled down eight rebounds, helping the Sixers to a very unexpected win.

It was, by far, his best game in a Sixers uniform. Counting last night, Jordan is a minus-59 in his last four games in less than 60 minutes.

Of course, Jordan was a topic of conversation in Doc Rivers’ postgame press conference, and Rivers defiantly (and expectedly) defended his decision.

“We talked to our guys, they wanted a big roller,” Rivers said. “We love Paul, but, you know, we don’t need Paul in foul trouble, and that’s why you don’t want to start him.”

“We like DJ, and we’re gonna keep starting him, whether you like it or not. That’s what we’re gonna do because our guys believe in him.”

It almost sounds as though has doesn’t want to take the burden of blame for giving significant minutes to someone who was a sieve on defense and a road cone on offense.

If it’s your decision to start him, own it. You’re the boss; this isn’t a democracy. If you see a player struggling, you replace him, even if the alternative may not be the best matchup.

Rivers’ allegiance to Jordan cost the Sixers a very winnable Game 1. If he continues to sponsor the DeAndre Jordan Victory Tour, this series will be short and painful to watch.