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Sixers Joel Embiid reacts to Matisse Thybulle comments on time in Philly

The Sixers center responded to comments made by his former teammate.

Utah Jazz v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

It’s been just over a month since a four-team trade sent Matisse Thybulle from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Portland Trail Blazers. The Sixers acquired Jalen McDaniels from the Charlotte Hornets in the deal.

Friday night saw Thybulle return to the Wells Fargo Center, a place he called home for three years, for the first time as the opponent.

Prior to his return to South Philadelphia, Thybulle told Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer that the contrast between playing for the Sixers and for the Trail Blazers has been a difference in opportunity, and that he felt that “there was a lot more fear-based play in Philadelphia as opposed to what I’m doing here in Portland.”

His words caught the attention of his former teammate and Sixers star Joel Embiid. The big man made such known to reporters after the Sixers’ last-second 120-119 victory over the Trail Blazers.

“Yeah, I talked to him after the trade. Like I said, I loved him when he was here,” Embiid explained. “I told him I kind of was unhappy with some of the comments that were made lately. It’s whatever.”

From there, Embiid elaborated on the level of pressure and expectation that comes with playing in Philadelphia.

“It’s hard; playing in Philly is not easy. There’s a lot of pressure that comes with it,” Embiid said. “Every year, you’re expected to win. It doesn’t even matter if they believe you have a good team or a good enough team to win a championship. That’s still the expectation. And that’s why there’s not a lot of people that can play here and survive here.”

Let’s be honest, though, I’m sure Thybulle wasn’t complaining about the city itself when he talked about the “fear-based” play he says he faced in Philadelphia. Rather, the fear claim was likely about letting him get time on the floor to make and correct his mistakes.

And to be fair, Thybulle is certainly getting more playtime with the Blazers, averaging 29.4 minutes in Portland compared to the 12.1 he was averaging this season with the Sixers. In his 11 games for the Blazers thus far, he is shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc on 4.3 average attempts. With his limited time on the court as a Sixer this campaign, he was averaging just 33.3 percent on 1.3 attempts from long range.

“Some guys have different mindsets. For some guys it’s all about winning, and for some guys it’s all about just playing basketball,” Embiid said.

To be fair to the Sixers, Thybulle had his opportunities in Philadelphia, averaging 25.5 minutes per game last season and starting in 50 games, playing in nine of the Sixers’ 12 playoff games — missing three due to his lack of full vaccination status. In that playoff run, Thybulle struggled, shooting just 28.6 percent from three-point range on 1.6 attempts per appearance. Opponents were able to basically ignore Thybulle on the offensive end, and it nullified any impact he was able to have on defense.

Nevertheless, Embiid made sure to cap off his comments with the assurance that Thybulle’s contributions were always appreciated and to wish him luck in the future.

“Like I said, he was great when we had him here. I wish him well. I still believe that he has a lot of potential and it’s all about him putting the work in and especially shooting and defensively, he’s a monster.”

Thybulle and the 31-36 Trail Blazers now move on from Philadelphia, as the Sixers prepare for their next matchup hosting the Washington Wizards on Sunday night.

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