The 76ers have made few things easy this season. One night after a 141-94 win over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers, the Sixers appeared to be cruising before some late-game turnovers made things interesting in Sunday’s 110-104 home win over the defending NBA-champion Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors trailed by 18 with less than five minutes left, but through a slew of turnovers, cut it to five with 14 seconds remaining.
So the Sixers are 17-7 overall and 12-0 at home. They will have off from practice Monday before hosting the suddenly slumping Denver Nuggets on Tuesday.
One of the positives of Sunday’s win was the play of Matisse Thybulle, and the Sixers didn’t even know that morning if he would play.
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Thybulle to the rescue
Thybulle woke up Sunday morning, and the rookie first-round pick from Washington was going to do everything possible to be in the lineup.
In Saturday’s win over Cleveland, Thybulle had rolled his ankle in the second quarter and didn’t return. The Sixers listed him as questionable for the Toronto game.
He warmed up before the game and felt pretty good.
“I got some shots up and wanted to see how I felt,” he said. “This was a big game for us and I wanted to be available, and our training staff did a great job getting me ready.”
So the training staff definitely had a hand in the win because the Sixers wouldn’t have earned a victory without him.
Not only did the 6-foot-5 reserve score a career-high 20 points off the bench, but he shot 6-for-9 from the field, including 5-for-8 from three-point range, and hit all three of his free throws. He added three assists and one blocked shot in a career-best 31 minutes, 31 seconds.
Thybulle says what has helped him the most during his rookie season is his veteran teammates.
“I know their support is huge for me going in, and knowing they trust me to take these shots helps me make them,” he said.
One of his mentors and biggest supporters has been Tobias Harris, who scored a team-high 26 points Sunday.
“Matisse is great,” Harris said. “I was telling him, ‘Don’t let the last minute and 30 seconds kill the vibe of the game’ because he helped us secure the win tonight.”
Harris was referring to the fact that Thybulle committed two late-game turnovers. The rest of Thybulle’s performance more than compensated for those miscues.
“He came in and his energy was amazing,” Harris said. “He was able to knock down big shots, big threes each and every time they tried to make a run. He was amazing out there.”
One other interesting stat on Thybulle, according to Basketball-Reference.com: The Sixers are 12-1 when he plays 15 or more minutes.
Beginning with Sunday’s game against Toronto, Keith Pompey writes, this is the beginning of a critical time in the Sixers schedule.
My takeaways from the Sixers’ win over Toronto.
Pompey writes that Sixers coach Brett Brown wants Ben Simmons to attempt at least one three-pointer per game.
I profiled Ruben Boumtje Boumtje, the assistant GM of the Sixers’ G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats, who is looking to follow a path similar to Sixers GM Elton Brand’s.
Before the weekend’s games, I dissected the Sixers’ seven losses and found out that, not surprisingly, Simmons and Joel Embiid usually need to play well for them to win.
When the Sixers shoot well, they usually win, so this stat shouldn’t be surprising, but it is interesting nevertheless: During Sunday’s win, the Sixers shot 40-for-79 from the field (50.6%).
According to Basketball-Reference, the Sixers are 7-2 when shooting 50% or better.
Here are the games:
Nov. 2 at Portland, 129-128 W, 54 for 107 (50.5%)
Nov. 10 vs. Charlotte, 114-106 W, 46 for 84 (54.8%)
Nov. 15 at Oklahoma City, 127-119 OT L, 45 for 90 (50%)
Nov. 17 at Cleveland, 114-96, W, 46 for 84 (54.8%)
Nov. 22 vs. San Antonio, 115-104 W, 46 for 89 (51.7%)
Nov. 23 vs. Miami, 113-86 W, 42 for 83 (50.6%)
Dec. 5 at Washington 119-113 L, 41 for 77 (53.2%)
Dec. 7 vs. Cleveland, 141-94 W 57 for 90 (63.3%)
Dec. 8 vs. Toronto, 110-104 W 40 for 79 (50.6%)
Tomorrow: Denver at Sixers, 8 p.m., TNT
Thursday: Sixers at Boston, 8 p.m., TNT
Friday: Pelicans at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Sunday: Sixers at Brooklyn, 6 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Dec. 18: Miami Heat at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Passing the rock
Question: Embiid had 3 turnovers in 3 minutes at the end. Sixers looked like they had never seen full court press before. Lucky to win. — @COLA5110 on Twitter
Answer: Actually, he had three turnovers in a 51-second span. Your point is well made. Brown seemed perplexed talking about it after the game.
The Sixers were lucky that they led by as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter and were able to withstand the mistakes. It did seem as if they had never seen a press like that, and don’t you think that future opponents will make note of this? So that will be one of the things the Sixers will have to work on extra in practice.