MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There may come a time when folks stop being amazed by Matisse Thybulle’s defensive prowess.
The 76ers swingman was an NBA All-Defensive second-team selection last season despite playing just 20 minutes a game as a reserve. Then as a member of the Australian national team, Thybulle did a stellar job defending Team USA and Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant in the Tokyo Olympics.
The latest addition to his resume came during Saturday night’s 102-93 victory over the Golden State Warriors at the Wells Fargo Center.
Thats when Thybulle did the unthinkable: He shut down Steph Curry.
Curry, the two-time MVP, came into the contest averaging 27.5 points a game. However, he finished with a misleading 18 points on 6-for-20 shooting, including missing 11 of 14 three-pointers.
With Thybulle as the primary defender, Curry shot 2-for-13, including 1-of-9 on three-pointers. The Sixers’ defensive wiz also became the first player to block Curry’s three-point shot multiple times in a game, doing it twice.
Curry came into the night needing 10 three-pointers to pass Ray Allen (2,973) for the NBA record for career threes. Thybulle made sure that Curry will have to wait at least another game.
“There’s no secret to guarding people like that,” Thybulle said. “You’ve got to play really hard. You’ve got to be willing to get scored on. And he’s going to make some spectacular plays, and you just have to be able to play through that.”
These types of performances against elite players are becoming the norm for Thybulle, now in his third season.
A season ago, he shut down Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, Phoenix’s Devin Booker, and Brooklyn’s Blake Griffin. Four players, each with a different style. He also had game-saving blocks against Brooklyn’s James Harden and Washington’s Bradley Beal. As a rookie, Thybulle stripped the Lakers’ LeBron James twice in the post.
But following Saturday’s game, Joel Embiid said Thybulle has a chance to be the league’s defensive player of the year.
That hasn’t crossed Thybulle’s mind.
“Awards are given based off performance,” he said. “I perform to win. I don’t perform to acquire accolades.
“It’s an amazing compliment and would be an honor. But ... that doesn’t determine how I’m going to show up each night to play.”
Thybulle and the Sixers (15-12) face the Memphis Grizzlies Monday night at the FedExForum. The Grizzlies (16-11) have won two straight and seven of their last eight games. They’ve won those games without standout point guard Ja Morant, who’s missed time with a knee injury and being in COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Jaden Springer is sidelined with concussion
Jaden Springer, the Sixers’ 2021 first-round pick, is sidelined after suffering a concussion Saturday during the Delaware Blue Coats’ 107-93 NBA G-League victory over the Capital City Go Go in Washington, D.C. The Sixers did not give a timeline for his return.
However, a player with a suspected concussion must undergo a neurological evaluation before continued monitoring over a period of 24 hours. If a player is diagnosed with a head injury, as is the case with Springer, the player will be required to sit out the next day.
The player can return to light workouts before being monitored again to see if he responds and/or has any lingering effects.
If there are no further issues, the player’s workouts will be slowly ramped up before he is free to return.
The Sixers acquired Springer with the 28th pick in July’s NBA draft. The 19-year-old combo guard out of the University of Tennessee has played in one NBA game.
Springer has averaged 15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.1 steals in nine games with the Blue Coats, the Sixers’ G-League affiliate.