The Philadelphia 76ers are racing to the NBA’s finish line with a young engine under the hood. But the team has been fueled by one trusty spare part all year, one with three championships and a ton of good mileage on his tires.
Danny Green came over to the Sixers last December in a sneaky good trade and immediately entered the starting five. The 33-year-old averaged a modest 9.5 points per game during the regular season but his experience has been invaluable for a young team in win-now mode. Green also leads by example on the court with timely defense while serving as arguably the best corner three-point shooter in the league. And then there’s the “Danny Green cut.”
Matisse Thybulle knows first-hand how much the 12-year veteran means to the Sixers. The second-year guard accepted an invitation to sit down in the film room with Green and walked away a better player. And it wasn’t just about X’s and O’s. Thybulle’s notebook was filled up with tangible “life experience.”
“Danny Green’s record as a player is just incredible,” Thybulle told reporters on Wednesday. “Just the fact that he can bring that to the table, plus the fact that he’s just a smart, articulate guy … his knack for the game, his ability to explain it to people, is just beyond helpful.”
Danny Green is a brand name in the NBA, much like Pepsi or Coca-Cola in the soda world. His track record speaks for itself.
“He’s been a key part in a lot of winning teams,” Thybulle said. “He has so much to give in that sense, even just the comparisons he can make from this team to the teams that have won championships, and what we lack and what other teams had. Or where we need to grow or what we can also build on. That’s more than a skill, that’s a life experience or the career experience of a player very, very few guys have.”
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Green Talks About Breaking Bad Habits
Doc Rivers inherited a group with sloppy tendencies under former coach Brett Brown. Players weren’t being held accountable and a winning culture was never established. And while Green wasn’t a part of those old Sixers teams, the savvy veteran picked up on the disconnect quickly. He made it a point to work alongside Rivers to change those bad habits.
“Change the atmosphere, change the environment. To have a championship-winning environment,” Green said of Rivers’ impact. “Some guys had bad habits before he got here. So just cleaning up some of those things and obviously, we have a ways to go.
“The sky’s the limit for this team, the potential is unreal with our superstars that we have, our Big Three [Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris]. But the things he [Rivers] tried to implement, change, adapt, adjust to, has helped us a ton.”
Thybulle piggy-backed off Green’s effusive praise for Rivers. He was in Philadelphia last year and lived through the growing pains.
“Doc Rivers is just a name known, like a household name known as being a winner and having teams that had a really strong culture,” Thybulle said. “He’s coached many great players and that’s reflected in his ability to handle the stars that we have. And even me as a role player, he does a great job of coaching across the board and then also just being able to build the culture through growing pains.”
Sixers Ready for Rowdy Home Crowd
The Sixers will take on the winner of a play-in game between the Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards. That game is slated for Thursday night at 8 p.m. Philadelphia gets them on their home court, at the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday (May 23) in a first-round playoff matchup.
The Sixers announced plans last week to increase capacity for fans by 50% for the postseason. That means 9,750 rowdies will be permitted in the arena, up from the 4,000 limit in March due to COVID-19 restrictions. The team is overjoyed to finally have a raucous atmosphere back in the building.
“Playing in front of Philadelphia,” Thybulle said when asked what he’s looking forward to in the postseason. “At the end of the day, we’re going out there and doing what we love to do, and bring a title to Philly and we get to play in front of more of our people so that’s really exciting.”