Thybulle Sets Career-High in Win Over Raptors
Ah yes. Now that's more like it.
A victory over the rival Toronto Raptors.
After soaring into a different stratosphere 24 hours earlier against a struggling opponent, the 76ers found a far more formidable foe waiting on their doorstep in the form of the reigning NBA champs.
The outcome Sunday wasn't quite as convincing as it was Saturday against the Cleveland Cavaliers - that feat would have been tough to pull off.
It was, however, convincing enough, as the Sixers prevailed, 110-104, in a game they led by as many as 21 points before Toronto made a late push in the fourth quarter.
Which factors were critical in turning the tide in favor of the Sixers, which suffered a 101-96 loss north of the border 13 days ago?
Most notably, the Sixers' defense was a bit stouter, specifically on Toronto All-Star candidate Pascal Siakam.
The Cameroonian went for 25 points on November 25th when the Atlantic Division clubs met for the first time. In the rematch, the Sixers gave Siakam a steady dose of different looks - a strategy that proved effective.
The combination of Al Horford, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid held Siakam to just six points on 3 for 12 shooting through three quarters. The Sixers forced the lanky forward to settle mostly for jumpshots and limited his opportunities in transition and at the rim.
Like the rest of his squad, which was shooting just 39.4% and 8-for-26 from deep heading into the final period of play, Siakam came alive down the stretch, but at that point, it was too little too late.
Another key subplot that helped the Sixers' cause? Matisse Thybulle turned in arguably his strongest showing yet. Playing within the flow of the offense, the rookie nailed a career-best five 3-pointers, en route to posting a personal-high of 20 points.
Per usual, his defense was stellar, highlighted by three steals and a block in 31 minutes of action.
Thybulle's biggest moment of the night came midway through Sunday's third-quarter, with Toronto threatening to close the gap to single-digits. In the span of 42 seconds, he hit a three, came up with a steal that led to a runout lay-up for James Ennis III, then connected on a second triple.
Thanks to Thybulle's efforts, the Sixers swiftly found themselves up 18, 71-53, having regained control. Based on how Sunday's game ended, every piece of insurance was pivotal.
For the fourth time in five outings, Tobias Harris eclipsed the 20-point mark. He notched 11 of his game-high 26 points in the opening frame to get the Sixers off to a spirited start.
The Sixers closed the first quarter on a 13-4 run, before outscoring Toronto by 10, 30-20, in the second.
Ben Simmons racked up 16 points, 11 boards, and nine assists. Joel Embiid added 10 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.
Click here for a complete box score.
It was a Matisse Thybulle kind of night.
Next test on the docket for the 76ers in what figures to be a challenging week, the Denver Nuggets Tuesday at The Center. Denver edged the Sixers by three, 100-97, earlier this season. The Nuggets went into action Sunday with the third-best record in the Western Conference, at 14-6.