History Surprisingly On Celtics’ Side Entering Do-Or-Die Game 6

Doc Rivers' playoff blunders should have Celtics fans excited


May 10, 2023

The Celtics are one game away from elimination after dropping Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series with the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

The good news? This isn’t new for Boston.

The Celtics find themselves in this exact position for the second year in a row. The only difference from 2022 is that it was the Milwaukee Bucks who stole Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead in the semifinal round in Boston. If you’ve been paying attention to the NBA for any longer than 12 months, you’d know that the Celtics bounced back to win Game 6 on the road last season before punching their ticket to the Eastern Conference finals with a victory in Game 7 at TD Garden.

That much should be enough to spark at least some confidence in Celtics fans. It isn’t the only historical precedent that falls in their favor, however.

Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers has built a reputation for being one of the greatest choke artists in the NBA’s 76-season history. Rivers, who has led his team to the postseason on 19 separate occasions, has blown a lead to be eliminated 11 times. That means Rivers has a greater chance to blow a lead (57.9%) than his MVP, Joel Embiid, has to make a basket (50.1%).

Here’s a look at each lead the coaching veteran has blown.

2003: 3-1
2005: 1-0
2009: 3-2
2010: 3-2
2012: 3-2
2014: 1-0
2015: 3-1
2016: 2-0
2017: 2-1
2020: 3-1
2021: 2-1


Boston has been on the short end of Rivers’ playoff follies, as he was the Celtics’ head coach from 2004-2013. That means the C’s were on the losing end of every blown 3-2 lead in Rivers’ career.

The hope in 2023 is that they’ll finally come out on the winning end.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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