TORONTO — Happy Hump Day.
But in the case of the 76ers, it is Happy “Stuff Is About to Get Real” Day.
We’ll see tonight at Scotiabank Arena how much stock we can put in recent road victories against the Brooklyn Nets (Monday) and the New York Knicks (Saturday). The Toronto Raptors are on a completely different level and will serve as a solid barometer for the Sixers (29-16), who had lost six straight road games before wins over the struggling Knicks and Nets.
The Raptors (29-14) have won four straight and seven of their last 10.
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— Keith Pompey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Matisse Thybulle has proven he belongs in the NBA Rising Stars game.
His not being included would be a major oversight and show the selection process is somewhat flawed. Let’s face it. If you’re a rookie drafted in the Top 5, a lot has to go wrong for you to not get selected by the league’s assistant coaches for the annual game that kicks off the NBA All-Star Weekend. As a result, non-lottery picks such as Thybulle are sometimes overlooked, especially if they’re not prolific scorers or sharpshooters.
On Feb. 14, the game will pit 10 first- and second-year NBA players from the United States against 10 first- and second-year international players at the United Center in Chicago. Tipoff is scheduled for 9 p.m. The annual 69th annual All-Star Game will be Feb. 16.
“It would be cool,” Thybulle said Monday of getting a Rising Stars invite.
But it’s not his goal.
“All of these [honors] are just accolades,” the guard said. “It’s just recognition for what you’ve done on the court. At the end of the day, if you don’t perform, that’s not an option.
“It’s never my goal to get the accolades. It’s just my goal to perform well, and then the rest will just take care of itself.”
It’s hard to overlook his impact with the Sixers.
The team is 7-0 when Thybulle starts and 17-3 when he plays at least 20 minutes. He leads all rookies and ranks 18th in the league in steals at 1.49 per game. He’s also one of the league’s top three-and-D guys, shooting 38% on threes.
The Sixers have had at least one participant in Rising Stars game since 2014.
Once Tobias Harris re-signed with the Sixers in July, the standout forward was determined to build a solid culture.
That he has.
Harris has done everything from being a mentor to the younger players to organizing team dinners and functions. His latest example came after the Sixers arrived in Toronto on Monday and boarded a bus to their hotel.
With microphone in hand, Harris asked each individual to “state your name, where you from and where you’re going.” He also served as the bus’ disc jockey.
“DJ Tobi,” Thybulle called Harris. “He was putting on a show for everybody.”.
Today: Sixers at Toronto Raptors, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia, ESPN
Saturday: Los Angeles Lakers at Sixers, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Tuesday: Golden State Warriors at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Jan. 30: Sixers at Atlanta Hawks, 7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Feb. 1: Sixers at Boston Celtics, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Question: What serves this team better a Derrick Rose, who is an average three-point shooter, but can create his own shot type of guy or a pure shooter a la Bertans? — @DonnRunyan
Answer: What’s up, Donny? Thanks for asking a great question. Detroit Pistons point guard Derrick Rose and Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans do indeed have distinct skill sets that would benefit the Sixers. However, the Sixers would be better served trading for a guy like Bertans.
You can’t have enough shooters. Plus, the Sixers already have a Derrick Rose type in Trey Burke. You can argue that Burke isn’t on Rose’s level, but they have similar skills. Bertans would really help the spacing. Bertans and Furkan Korkmaz could also have an impact off the bench similar to what Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova had with the Sixers two seasons ago.
So if I had to settle for just one in a trade, I’m go after the sharpshooter. That doesn’t mean the Sixers still can’t add a shot creator after the trade deadline. Don’t forget free agent Jamal Crawford is still available and a better shooter than Rose.