Things were starting to look up a bit in Philadelphia. The Sixers scored a season-high 144 points in their win against the Hornets over the weekend, and then set the franchise record for made three-pointers in a game with 23 made in the win over Indiana. Good times! So, naturally, the next hit was coming.
Matisse Thybulle is listed on NBA injury report as "ineligible to play" tomorrow in Toronto.— Noah Levick (@NoahLevick) April 6, 2022
This designation for Matisse points to the vaccine mandate that went into effect in Canada on Jan. 15, requiring individuals to be fully vaccinated before entering the country. (The definition of fully vaccinated under the mandate means at least 14 days having passed from the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or from a single-dose vaccine.) Fans might note that Thybulle played in the Sixers’ game in Toronto back on December 28, 2021; that game obviously came a few weeks before the vaccine mandate went into effect.
Losing Thybulle for Thursday’s game is a tough blow. The Sixers have just three games remaining in the regular season and are currently tied in the standings with Boston and Milwaukee, with the three teams looking destined to finish second, third, and fourth in some order in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. It would have been really nice to have the team’s best perimeter defender available.
Moreover, this development could mean bad things in a potential first-round playoff series. The Sixers might play Toronto in a 4-vs-5 or 3-vs-6 series (4-vs-5 being more likely given how well the Raptors have been playing and how poorly Chicago has been). Losing Thybulle for any road games would be a blow, for sure. Sixers fans were previously engaging in some schadenfreude at the idea of Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving not being able to play in a play-in game in Toronto. Now, the Raptors have shot up the standings and the Sixers could be bitten by a similar circumstance.
It will be up to the rest of the roster to pick up the slack tomorrow. Stay tuned.