Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers spent time Monday morning at the FTX Arena talking about mentorship ahead of his team’s game-day shootaround for the first two games of his team’s Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat. Their hosts were also involved.
The influence of Heat president Pat Riley, Rivers said, has been a touchstone on his coaching career, a view derived from his time playing under Riley’s coaching with the New York Knicks.
“I’ve been around some really nice people,” Rivers said. “But Riley clearly had the biggest impact. It’s not even close.”
This includes playing under Mike Fratello, Larry Brown, and even spending time with the San Antonio Spurs working under Greg Popovich.
Rivers told the assembled media that it was during his time as a TNT game analyst that Riley made a Rivers move into coaching.
“He was the one when I did TV for three years, every day he would call me or challenge me, ‘When are you going to hit the ground? Rivers said of Riley. “That would make me really short. because i did  Miami and New York playoff series. Every day, he met me. I thought he was wrong, but in the end he turned out to be right.”
Rivers has long noted his two-plus seasons under Riley in New York as transformative.
“He inspired me, he really did,” Rivers said. “Just his confidence in his speech and conditioning, anyway, I was always in pretty good shape, so he’s made you believe that you’re different from everyone else in the league. And then, in the first-five-minute rule he has There was dishonesty in every right, as they would stop calling them. You can’t do that anymore.
“It’s his spirit and the way he does the job that sets him apart.”
And yet, addressing the Heat, Rivers pointed to the Heat retaining at least part of the relay spell under coach Eric Spoelstra when he predicted Heat 76ers guard James Harden and Tyrese Maxi would defend. How can
“They’re going to try to bump them up and all that fake hard stuff,” Rivers said. “I always laugh at that brash stuff. You’re on the basketball court.
“But, you know, we’ll be prepared for all of that.”
With Victor Oladipo back in the heat rotation mix, Spoelstra said it’s important for him to strike a chord with sixth-man Tyler Herro.
“We’re working on that a little more deliberately,” Spoelstra said. “We’ve had the opportunity to do more of this for several weeks.
“Both have been very diligent to work on their rhythm and flow and who handles and works with both, making sure we get both of their strengths. And it’s gotten a lot better.”
Spoelstra said adaptation remains fundamental even if it is late in the process.
“To accomplish what we want to achieve,” he said, “you need talent, you need many people to pretend you can. You want everyone to feel like they can be themselves. And can also play with great confidence and fluency. And I have already seen good progress with him.”