There was a point during Game 1 between the Washington Wizards and the Philadelphia 76ers when Sixers second-year guard Matisse Thybulle guarded Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal one-on-one.
As Thybulle was playing tight on Beal, looking to shut down the guy who averaged the second-most points per game throughout the 2020-2021 season, the Philly crowd of over 11,000 got riled up.
Everybody wanted to see the second-year guard put the clamps on the seasoned veteran in the playoffs. Thybulle played his cards right, but Beal had the better hand. He swiftly drove to the basket and got his shot up, draining two of his 33 points.
After collecting the basket, Beal mocked the crowd for hyping up the matchup before he beat Thybulle one-on-one to the basket. While the Wizards guard seemed to be downplaying Thybulle's ability to guard him during the game, Beal didn't hesitate to offer credit to Thybulle two days later.
Following a Tuesday afternoon practice session, Beal met with the media via Zoom. When asked about the second-year Sixers guard, Beal had nothing but positive things to say about the defensive standout.
“He’s very similar to Ben (Simmons)," Beal explained. "He’s tall, has long arms, he’s physical and is a willing defender. I think that’s what separates a lot of guys in the league. He takes pride in defending. He doesn’t care about what happens on offense, if he’s involved, or gets shots. His job is to keep me from doing what I do, and I respect that."
Beal had a similar sentiment regarding Ben Simmons' defensive value. As he noted the size difference and athleticism as a reason why the matchups against Thybulle and Simmons are difficult, Beal believes the fact that they take pride in being lockdown defenders is what helps them succeed on that side of the ball.
"(Matisse Thybulle) goes out and competes at a high level," Beal continued. "To see he’s only in his second year, to be a willing defender as he is that’s a good sign. His trajectory can only go up, but I definitely try to make it as tough on him as possible -- make him work and try to move him.”
Thybulle and the Sixers will face off against Beal and the Wizards once again on Wednesday night for Game 2 of the series. Although Beal had a solid game, scoring 33 on Philly's defense, Washington failed to overcome the Sixers in South Philly. We'll see if the outcome is any different on Wednesday night.