Philadelphia 76ers: Mike D’Antoni comes up short in Game 7

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

After taking it to Game 7, ex-Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Mike D’Antoni’s Houston Rockets squad couldn’t make it past the Golden State Warriors.

And just like that, we’re down to two.

After almost two months of playoff basketball, 14 teams have been eliminated from action leaving us with yet another Golden State WarriorsCleveland Cavaliers NBA Finals for what feels like the 10th time in a row.

At this point, it’s practically a tradition.

More from Philadelphia 76ers

While the City of Brotherly Love is obviously upset that their hometown heroes, the Philadelphia 76ers, lost in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the hated Boston Celtics, it’s also unfortunate that the Brett Brown coaching tree will not be represented in the NBA Finals.

That’s right, for those who have forgotten, Mike D’Antoni actually spent the 2015-2016 NBA season as the Sixers’ associate head coach following a failed tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers. Though his stint with the team was incredibly brief, it appears as though it helped to rehab his image enough for D’Antoni to be offered and ultimately accept the Houston Rockets‘ vacant head coaching position going into 2016.

Following failed stints with the Denver Nuggets, the Phoenix Suns, the New York Knickerbockers, and the Los Angeles Lakers, it looks like the fifth time’s the charm for D’Antoni.

With James Harden firmly cemented in as the team’s unquestioned cornerstone, D’Antoni’s squad has amassed a ridiculous 120-44 record over two seasons with the team, good for a 73 percent winning percentage, the second-best mark of any team in the league behind Golden State, and 2018 served as a watershed moment for the upstart squad.

After getting bumped out of the Western Conference Semifinals in 2017 by the San Antonio Spurs in six games, the Rockets came back ready for business.

Angry and out for revenge, D’Antoni and company set out on a mission to build a roster specifically designed to take out the Kevin Durant-lead Warriors, with a small army of 3-and-D wing players ready to defeat their interconference foes.

But if this year’s Western Conference Finals is of any indication, it looks like you can’t beat the Warriors in a shootout mono a mono, especially with Chris Paul sidelined by a hamstring injury.

Related Story: Joel Embiid wastes no time trolling Boston Celtics after Game 7

In a performance reminiscent of the Sixers series against the Celtics, or the Celtics series against the Cavaliers, Houston’s 3-point shooting basically dried up, completing 7 of their 44 attempts for a ghastly 15 percent from outside, effectively ending their own championship hopes single handily.

Though the team did ultimately finish out the 2017-2018 NBA season with the best record in the league, securing the top seed in the Western Conference typically held by the Warriors, the Rockets’ Conference Finals failure should serve as a cautionary tale as to why a team has to stay committed to playing their style regardless of their opponent, and making the appropriate adjustments mid-series. Even with the best players in the world, scheme trumps individual talent more often than not.

Next: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson could add defensive versatility

Even though neither Brown, D’Antoni or recently hired Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce will be represented in the 2018 NBA Finals, it’s nice to see Philadelphia 76ers staff past and present being represented in the postseason, even if neither squad made it all the way to the championship.