76ers

Brett Brown is teaching 'wild' rookie Matisse Thybulle ... and also learning from him

Brett Brown is teaching 'wild' rookie Matisse Thybulle ... and also learning from him

CAMDEN, N.J. — Ben Simmons talked about wildlife in Australia. Dario Saric discussed the history of conflict between Serbia and Croatia. JJ Redick asked whether we’re all living in a simulation.

The topic for Matisse Thybulle's presentation at the Sixers’ team breakfast Thursday morning shouldn't be surprising for those who know him — photography. 

As Brett Brown began answering a question about Thybulle, he strayed down a familiar, colorful path. He called Thybulle a “stallion that’s wild,” emphasized the need to “polish him up” and said the 22-year-old is “easy to coach.”

Then, over the heads of reporters, he noticed a figure sipping a smoothie.

And he’s over there right now,” Brown said, lighting up. “Can I go off script for a second? We have, and I’ve been doing this for six years, we have team breakfasts. People choose topics and get up and present something. … Today we had Matisse Thybulle do photography and he just blew us out of the water with his interest and his skill, and talking about lenses and cameras. And so I see him over there and I’m giving to give you a long fist bump. Well done. Now I’m going to call you reckless, OK?

Brown went on with his response, praising Thybulle’s character, defensive skills and gradual improvement. Once he’d fulfilled his media obligations and stepped through the scrum, he shared a few more words and a laugh or two with him.

Thybulle is indeed more knowledgeable and skilled a photographer than the average NBA player, as one can see through his secondary Instagram account, @mt4photography.

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Above the rim

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Sunsets have kinda been my thing lately

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Learning a thing or two from the great @erickhercules

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He’s a unique person, and he finds himself in a unique situation with Brown and the Sixers. 

Thybulle had 16 steals in his first five NBA games, but his playing time has been uneven since then. He’s still determining how to balance his gifts for defensive aggression and anticipation with avoiding the kind of mistakes Brown won’t tolerate. Thybulle does have 15 points on 5 for 10 shooting (2 for 2 from three-point range) over the Sixers’ last two games, which could help his cause.

Though Brown embraces what he’s referred to as Thybulle’s “kamikaze spirit,” he said Thursday that his priority is integrating new veteran players like Al Horford and Josh Richardson. He does, however, envision Thybulle contributing in the postseason.

What I always remind myself of is you have to start with the end in mind,” he said. “If the end in mind is the playoffs, I think he can be a playing player in the playoffs. And so there has to be some ecosystem that’s fair. As you’re trying to grow and space and teach and coach new veterans, and then you’ve got a rookie coming in that’s trying to figure out where do I put my thumbprint on this, my tolerance in that environment is less for him. And for the others, it's greater.

"Defensively, that’s where he’s gotta make his statement. Offensively, we hope he can make some shots and finish better at the rim and come to jump stops where he’s not airborne without a plan, and I think he’s getting better. But my priority is to help clean up the world for those veteran players.

Still, Brown clearly likes what he has in his creative, gambling rookie.

“Like I’ve said from Day 1, I’d rather have something that you can polish up instead of wind up,” he said Wednesday. “Nobody questions his energy.”

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Sixers at Nets: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

Sixers at Nets: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

The Sixers (28-16) are looking for their second straight road win in Brooklyn against the Nets (18-23) on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Joel Embiid will miss his seventh straight game as he recovers from surgery to repair a torn ligament on the ring finger of his left hand. Al Horford is also listed as questionable (sprained left hand), possibly leaving the Sixers in a tough spot at center.

The Nets are also banged up at the five as DeAndre Jordan (dislocated right middle finger) is out. They’ll also be without former Sixer Wilson Chandler (left hamstring tightness).

Here are the essentials:

When: 3 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 2:30 p.m.
Where: Barclays Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines to watch:

Hurting at the five

The Sixers have gone 4-2 since Embiid went down. Though Horford’s play has been up-and-down, he’s a big part of the reason why. If he misses Monday’s game, Brett Brown will be in a difficult spot.

Two-way player Norvel Pelle is coming dangerously close to his 45 NBA days running out. When that happens, the Sixers will either have to offer him a full NBA deal or Pelle will be able to sign with another team. The plan is for him to be active today, but that plan could change.

The other main option is veteran Kyle O’Quinn, who saw his first action of 2020 against the Bulls Friday. Jonah Bolden is with the team in Brooklyn. In a pinch, they could have him dress.

Road woes over?

The Sixers barely snapped their six-game road losing streak at Madison Square Garden Saturday night in a 90-87 win over the Knicks. Yes, it was against a bad team, but it has to help their psyche just to put one in the win column away from the Wells Fargo Center. 

They’re playing a dangerous Brooklyn team. The Nets have lost three straight, but those games were to the red-hot Jazz, the Sixers and the NBA-best Bucks. Kyrie Irving came out humming after returning from his injury, but has struggled in the last two.

Unlike last season, the Sixers are well-equipped to handle the likes of Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert. We saw what Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson and Matisse Thybulle were able to do to that trio last week in Philly. This should be a good one.

MLK Day

The slate of NBA games on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day has become a tradition. It’s one that players around the league don’t take lightly.

Tobias Harris addressed the Wells Fargo Center crowd before the Sixers’ last home game before MLK Day. Harris spoke about King’s message of love and equality.

“Martin Luther King stood for equality. He stood for love. Amongst everybody, all the different individuals of life, to be able to walk out and embrace each other and cherish everything that we do on a daily basis. In our world, what he and his message brought to everybody, is meant for now more than ever. On behalf of myself, the NBA, the organization and my teammates, we want to thank you guys for being here tonight and to also celebrate and cherish the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr."

Harris was excellent that night, scoring 11 of his game-high 34 points in the fourth quarter to help seal the win.

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2019-20 NBA power rankings: Taking stock heading into the second half of the regular season

2019-20 NBA power rankings: Taking stock heading into the second half of the regular season

With the trade deadline a little over two weeks away, every team in the NBA has played at least 41 games.

Let’s take stock as the second half of the regular season begins: 

The top 10

It took the second triple-double of Markelle Fultz’s career Wednesday to snap the Lakers’ nine-game winning streak. 

Jimmy Butler has gotten to the free throw line in every game he’s played besides one this season and is third in the NBA in free throw attempts per game (9.3).

Mike Conley returned from a hamstring injury Saturday for Utah, and the Jazz have won 16 of 18.

The Rockets have lost three straight and the Mavs have won four straight, but Dallas has a difficult upcoming schedule with the Clippers and Jazz on tap this week. 

Ben Simmons has been stellar in just about every way besides fourth-quarter scoring for the Sixers in Joel Embiid’s absence and is averaging 21.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists over his last four games. 

Though Marcus Smart set a franchise record with 11 threes and scored a career-high 37 points in Saturday’s defeat to the Suns, Boston has lost three in a row. 

1. Milwaukee Bucks (38-6) 
2. Los Angeles Lakers (34-8)
3. Los Angeles Clippers (30-13)
4. Denver Nuggets (29-13) 
5. Miami Heat (29-13) 
6. Utah Jazz (29-13) 
7. Dallas Mavericks (27-15) 
8. Houston Rockets (26-15)
9. Sixers (28-16) 
10. Boston Celtics (27-14)

The middle 10

The Raptors shot over 50 percent from the floor in every game this week and could easily be higher in our rankings — it’s tightly bunched in the six through 12 range. 

Memphis has seven straight wins. Ja Morant is mesmerizing, and both he and Jaren Jackson Jr. are shooting over 40 percent on threes. 

Kyrie Irving talked Wednesday at Wells Fargo Center about the Nets requiring “one or two more pieces,” then reached out to teammates to clarify his comments.

Zion Williamson is expected to debut Wednesday vs. the Spurs, exciting news if you enjoy basketball. 

After their trade with the Kings, Portland got 34 points from Damian Lillard and a career-high 30 from flu-stricken Gary Trent Jr., and they still lost by 13 to Oklahoma City.

11. Toronto Raptors (28-14)
12. Indiana Pacers (28-15) 
13. Oklahoma City Thunder (24-19) 
14. Memphis Grizzlies (20-22)
15. Brooklyn Nets (18-23) 
16. San Antonio Spurs (18-23) 
17. Orlando Magic (20-23)
18. Phoenix Suns (18-24) 
19. New Orleans Pelicans (16-27) 
20. Portland Trail Blazers (18-26)

The bottom 10 

The Bulls’ last win over a team currently in playoff position was on Dec. 14, but Zach LaVine is putting up big numbers, including 42 points Saturday vs. Cleveland, and trying to push for a home All-Star appearance

Sekou Doumbouya, the league’s youngest player, scored 24 points on 10 of 13 shooting Wednesday night at TD Garden. 

It appears that a clear bottom four has separated from the pack. Stephen Curry is targeting a March 1 return, according to The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson. 

21. Chicago Bulls (16-28)
22. Sacramento Kings (15-27) 
23. Detroit Pistons (16-27)
24. Minnesota Timberwolves (15-27) 
25. Charlotte Hornets (15-29)
26. Washington Wizards (13-28)
27. Cleveland Cavaliers (12-31)
28. New York Knicks (11-32)
29. Golden State Warriors (10-34)
30. Atlanta Hawks (10-33) 



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