Pat Beverley defends James Harden, calls playing for Doc Rivers ‘hard’

We’re a few days into the Sixers’ offseason, and after press conferences from Doc Rivers and Daryl Morey, plus a few days of rumblings from the NBA rumor mill, it sounds like Rivers will be back next season as head coach.

Rivers has multiple years left on his deal and, despite his many shortcomings, is regarded as a good coach, but plenty of Sixers fans were hoping for a different result after the hugely disappointing end to another season of Joel Embiid’s prime.

Yet one current NBAer who previously played for Rivers thinks the criticism of the coach – and the tied-in criticism of James Harden, who was lackluster in the second round vs. Miami – is misguided.

MORE: 5 takeaways on Morey-Rivers end-of-season presser

Timberwolves guard Patrick Beverley joined ESPN on Monday morning to discuss all things NBA playoffs, and he went to bat for his former head coach and former teammate.

His explanation of why fans should go easy on the duo was interesting:

“Does he come up short in the playoffs? Yeah. But does he hold the weight of a team, of assists, of points? There was a point where [Russell Westbrook] and him were going tit-for-tat in carerer triple doubles. The man has a bad series and we just write him off like that so fast?

“[…]

“I’ve played for Doc. As a point guard, it’s extremely hard to play for Doc. Extremely hard. Because he demands so much, right? He demands so, so much. As a great coach, you should. So it’s an adjustment period. Coming here, halfway during the season, playing in Doc’s system – you have to get used to it. [JJ Redick] knows that. And also to be put with a ball-dominant center, something he’s never had in his career ever before, of course that’s going to take time. But now after half a season we’re going to sit here and say this man doesn’t deserve the max? Like c’mon now, that’s not fair.”

Hmm.

On one hand, I think this is a case of Beverley trying to help his guys push back on some pretty negative recent media coverage. I get it, but I do think breezing past the duo’s playoff failures is a bit misleading.

However, it’s also interesting and informative to get perspective from someone who has inside intel and firsthand experience with both people in question.

As Beverley showed Monday morning, he’s not in the business of telling half-truths. He’s all about honesty. So I do believe him when he says playing for Rivers as a point guard is tough, and I also believe him when he says Harden should probably be given a little more leeway when it comes to adjusting to life as a Sixer.

RELATED: In the biggest game of the year, Harden turned into Simmons

The main problem Sixers fans had with Harden in Games 5 & 6 vs. Miami, however, wasn’t an inability to hit shots – it was an effort thing. And that’s something this city isn’t going to suffer. We’ll be disappointed if you take and miss your shots, but we’ll be actively angry if you don’t give us your all in trying to find those shots in the first place.

It seems like Harden will be back next season, so if he can adapt better to life with Rivers (and, ideally, is healthy) while hopefully Rivers meets him in the middle then maybe we’ve got something here.

But the effort issues can’t remain. That’s got to get cleaned up, and that one’s too on Harden.

We’ll see.

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