Matisse Thybulle has been the toast of the town over the last couple of days because of his ridiculous defense against Golden State Warriors’ MVP-bound Steph Curry. Curry entered the two team’s recent contest on Saturday just ten threes shy from breaking the all-time record, currently held by Ray Allen.
Steph connected on three of them that night. But failed to make history or secure a win. The Sixers defeated Golden State 102-93, led in large part by Matisse Thybulle’s stellar defense against one of the greatest players in NBA history. He continues to make his case for best perimeter stopper in the league.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, Thybulle held Curry to 2 of 13 shooting when he was the primary defender. He held the greatest shooter of all time to just 1 of 9 behind the arc. It was a masterclass in shadow coverage.
Matisse Thybulle held Stephen Curry to 2-of-13 shooting as the primary defender on Saturday, including 1-of-9 from beyond the arc.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 12, 2021
Thybulle also became the first player to block multiple 3-point attempts by Curry in a single game. pic.twitter.com/SCbXmV2y3S
Thybulle also became the only player to block Curry on multiple attempts from distance in the same game. Clearly Steph felt he had enough room to get off a routine step back. But, below, notice Matisse stay with him the whole way, contesting with one hand, then securing the block with the other:
Matisse Thybulle held Steph Curry to 2/13 shooting in their individual matchup.— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) December 12, 2021
He also became the only player who has blocked two Steph Curry 3-point attempts in the same game.
@NBATV | H/T @kirkgoldsberrypic.twitter.com/5tQKtNnomh
Thybulle joined teammates Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid as members of the two All-NBA Defensive teams last season. Simmons was runner up for Defensive Player of the Year and made the First Team. Embiid and Thybulle made the second team.
Per DunksandThrees.com, Thybulle currently ranks 11th overall in Defensive estimated plus-minus. He joins names like Rudy Gobert, Draymond Green, Jimmy Butler and Alex Caruso in the top 15 for that category, staking a claim on another All-NBA Defensive team nod.
Per Mark Haynes of ClutchPoints, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said Thybulle did “as good of a job on Steph as anybody I’ve seen in a long time.”
Steve Kerr on if Stephen Curry could have mixed it up more to get going: "I give (Matisse) Thybulle credit. I thought he was fantastic defensively. He's a rare combination of length and athleticism and brains. He did as good of a job on Steph as anybody I've seen in a long time."— Mark Haynes (@markhaynesnba) December 12, 2021
“Man, I’ve been on this since he got here, I think he has a chance to be the Defensive Player of the Year,” said Embiid, via ESPN’s Lisa Salters.
"I think he has the chance to be the Defensive Player of the Year."— ESPN (@espn) December 12, 2021
—Joel Embiid on Matisse Thybulle holding Steph to 2-13 FG tonight
(via @saltersl) pic.twitter.com/IM6nZlRVWw
After the game Embiid added that his 24 year old teammate is “probably the best perimeter defender in the league.” High praise for a dude who has spent his career with Ben Simmons manning the wing.
The Sixers have been forced this season to task Thybulle with many of the most difficult match ups on the perimeter. In years past it has been Simmons to handling those honors. Thybulle has filled in admirably. As trade rumors surrounding Simmons heat up, the team may feel they have someone who can fill in to check a Curry or a Trae Young without losing much; Thybulle’s presence may further encourage them to target a shooter on the perimeter knowing they can trust the Washington product with the biggest challenges defensively.
Thybulle came into the league as a savant, reading the passing lanes and causes mistakes. But it’s his development as an on-ball stopper against the game’s best which has caused his on-court value to transcend.
Thybulle’s performance Saturday even had one of the greatest defensive players in league history feeling a certain way:
It’s been a couple years since losing a game bothered me this much… This is Good— Draymond Green (@Money23Green) December 12, 2021
Head coach Doc Rivers saw something special in the way Thybulle guarded Curry in the first time the teams met back in November. Even though the Sixers lost that one, he still caught his head coach’s eye.
“How many shot blocks have you seen with him with jump shots?” Rivers marveled. “That’s abnormal. You don’t see that. He gets one or two a game sometimes because of his recovery time.”
And you can’t forget this gem from last season:
After Saturday's win over the #Kings, #Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said Matisse Thybulle is like Inspector Gadget with some of the defensive plays he makes. pic.twitter.com/YG9mfT3wNQ— Dave Uram (@MrUram) March 21, 2021
Inspector Gadget is up again versus the Grizzlies and Liberty Ballers has your game coverage. He won’t get the chance to check Memphis phenom Ja Morant, who has been nursing a knee injury. But we can’t wait to see what he has in store for us next.