Dan Burke’s undefeated run as acting head coach for the Sixers is over.
Doc Rivers has cleared COVID-19 protocols and will return to the team’s bench Wednesday night against the Magic in Orlando, a team official said.
The Sixers went 2-0 under Burke, beating the Nets and Rockets. It was a rare moment in the spotlight for Burke, who joined Rivers’ staff as defensive coordinator before the 2020-21 season following a long run with the Pacers.
“He’s been great,” Danny Green said Sunday after a Burke-run practice that included a rebounding drill called “Hit the coach” and full-court action. “I think it’s a different look for guys, so it’s new — refreshing.
“I’m not saying we don’t miss Doc; we do miss Doc, but to have a different look, a different feel, a different voice in practice makes things a little different. It makes us hone in more because we know we’re missing one of our biggest leaders, and that’s Doc.”
Burke showed his sense of humor in media sessions — one of his better lines was that Joel Embiid “doesn’t flop anymore, by the way” — and appeared comfortable leading the team on a temporary basis.
It seemed that his players enjoyed seeing Burke having the opportunity.
“Great dude,” Isaiah Joe said Monday. “He’s a really good dude, always brings the best energy each and every day. … Dan Burke is just a great guy. He knows what he’s talking about and he knows how to win.”
“I think he deserves a lot of credit,” Furkan Korkmaz said. “I don’t know anybody on the team who doesn’t like him. … It’s hard to create love and respect at the same time. We all respect each other, but then you put love in there. As a player, you want to play with more desire and you want to do more for him. I really believe in him, I really like him. Like I said, I’m really happy for him.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, Jaden Springer and Paul Reed were out for the Magic game because of health and safety protocols. Myles Powell was questionable.
Rivers is one of 12 NBA head coaches to have entered COVID protocols this season, per NBA reporter Marc Stein.