On Night of Standout Performances, Second-Year Sixers Guard Steals the Show

Matisse Thybulle 76ers

Getty Philadelphia 76ers guard Matisse Thybulle pilfers the ball from Lauri Markkanen of the Chicago Bulls.

With Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid temporarily out of commission, the Philadelphia 76ers seemingly faced a tall order in seeking a road win over Zach LaVine and the Chicago Bulls on Thursday. In order to escape the United Center with a win, a lot of things would have to go right for the shorthanded squad.

Fortunately, a lot of things did, and then some.

The Sixers, sans their star players, dominated multiple phases of the game en route to a 127-105 win to tip-off the second half of the NBA season. Along the way, a slew of players gave standout performances.

Tony Bradley may have had the best game of his career (14 points, five rebounds, three blocks and 7-of-7 shooting); Embiid was ready to build the team around him before the night was done. Dwight Howard looked like the Superman of old with an 18-12-2 line. Tobias Harris led the way with an efficient 24 points on 15 shots.

And so on down the line.

However, on a night when several Sixers showed out, second-year guard Matisse Thybulle may have been the most impactful player on the floor.

Thybulle Literally Steals the Show

Tasked with serving up his best Simmons impression, Thybulle managed to come through with flying colors.  Midway through the first quarter, the 24-year-old had already pilfered the ball from the Bulls four times, setting a tone for the way in which the contest would ultimately unfold.

By night’s end, he had made it five thefts to equal his career-high in steals.

More than that, though, he pitched in on the effort to prevent LaVine from ever getting going. In a February loss to Philly, the All-Star was 2-for-12 when he was defended by Thybulle. He didn’t fare much better on Thursday, finishing the game with just 19 points on 16 shots and four turnovers.

Offensively, Thybulle was unstoppable in small doses. He knocked down all five of his field goal attempts, which included three three-point shots. As noted by the Sixers’ Brian Seltzer, he is the first player in NBA history to hit all of his shots in a game — with a minimum of three attempts from deep — while also logging five steals.

In spite of his historic effort, Thybulle was largely looking to hype up his teammates after the win.

“It says a lot about the guys who are willing to step up, just staying ready. I think I heard Dwight [Howard] say something about that, just Tony [Bradley] being able to stay ready and have an integral role in a game like this is a really big deal. And just across the board, I think we did a really good job of that,” he said.

“I think for us it’s just being able to play together. When we’re down arguably our two best players, being able to win in the fashion that we did, it says a lot about the second unit on the guys on the bench and just how capable we are.”

The Fishtown Mural

Thybulle’s ability to transform opponent’s possessions into scoring opportunities for the Sixers is making an impact beyond basketball.

Earlier this month, a mural bearing his likeness was spray-painted on the side of the Fishtown bar Garage as part of a partnership with Red Bull. What’s more — the energy drink giant pledged to donate $250 to Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to refurbish local basketball courts for every steal he records through the end of the 2020-21 campaign.

$1,250 isn’t a bad way to get the initiative off and running.

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