76ers' Matisse Thybulle Ineligible for Games 3, 4 vs. Raptors Due to Vaccine Status

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVApril 11, 2022

Philadelphia 76ers guard Matisse Thybulle plays during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 31, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

The Philadelphia 76ers will face the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, and that means they will be short-handed for the games on the road.

Head coach Doc Rivers told reporters Matisse Thybulle will not be eligible for the games in Toronto because he isn't fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Restrictions in place for those contests will prevent him from taking the court in Games 3, 4 and presumably 6 should the series stretch that long.

Thybulle addressed the situation:

Kyle Neubeck @KyleNeubeck

Thybulle: “This was a decision i made a long time ago…I was raised in a holistic household, anti vax is not a term that was ever used…we grew up with Chinese medicine and naturopathic doctors.” Says he has had to reconsider and look at situation differently

Kyle Neubeck @KyleNeubeck

Thybulle continues: he got the first dose of the vaccine last year under the impression it would prevent him from getting/spreading the disease 100%. Says when that wasn’t the case, he felt comfortable treating himself and approaching it holistically <a href="https://t.co/ZRjkdLNF0J">https://t.co/ZRjkdLNF0J</a>

If there is a silver lining for the 76ers, it is the fact that they are the No. 4 seed and will at least have home-court advantage. That means Thybulle should be on the court should the series extend to a decisive Game 7.

The Washington product is averaging 5.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 49.7 percent from the field and 31.0 percent from three-point range this season.

While the offensive numbers don't jump off the page, Thybulle's biggest value to the 76ers comes on the defensive side.

In addition to his steal and block totals, Thybulle's defensive box plus/minus ranking is plus-3.4 after it was plus-4.5 last season, per Basketball Reference. Opponents are also shooting 5.0 percent worse than their normal averages from the field and 11.2 percent worse from their normal three-point clip when he defends them this season, per NBA.com.

His absence will dial up the pressure on the 76ers across the board on the defensive side when they are on the road, which could help the Raptors target James Harden in pick-and-roll situations.

Thybulle is someone with enough defensive versatility to guard Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet or OG Anunoby in this series and will surely be deployed on whoever has the hot hand for Toronto when the series is in Philadelphia.

It will just have to be someone else playing that role when it is in Toronto.