Philadelphia 76ers second-year guard Matisse Thybulle is a rare breed in the NBA. In a league where scoring is now glorified more than ever, Thybulle prides himself on being a defense-first-minded player.
While the second-year guard certainly wants to improve on the offensive end, Thybulle has had a major focus on being elite defensively ever since his days of playing hoops in High School.
His skillset has transitioned well into the NBA. Ever since getting drafted by the Sixers in 2019, Thybulle has been a key member of Philly's rotation as his defense alone makes it difficult to justify not having him on the court.
While his defense is considered to be elite already by many, Thybulle has seen his fair share of challenges in the NBA when it comes to matching up defensively against offensive superstars.
In the first round of the playoffs, Thybulle was tasked with guarding seasoned veterans such as Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal. In the second round, he's getting reps against the Atlanta Hawks' young superstar, Trae Young.
During Game 1 of the second-round battle between the Hawks and the Sixers, Thybulle and his teammates had their hands full as Young put up 35 points in 39 minutes of action. While Thybulle didn't exclusively guard Young on Sunday, the young veteran had his fair share of battles against the All-Star and recently described the difficulty of guarding a player of Young's stature.
"He's really versatile," Thybulle explained on Monday. "He's so quick, and his ability to navigate in the paint and make plays for himself and his teammates it just makes it; it feels like at times you can cut off one thing, and he just finds another thing."
The Sixers know that completely shutting down a player like Young is a tall task. So, instead of putting all of their energy into trying to shut him down, Thybulle and the Sixers intend to simply slow him down and force other members of the Hawks to try and beat Philly's defensive attack.
"Ultimately, it's just being able to get guys on him to slow him down," Thybulle continued. "[You have to] bump him off his path and as a team, just finish the plays with rotations and rebounds."
Young's offense got the best of the Sixers' defense in Game 1. As he accounted for 35 of Atlanta's 128 points, the Hawks stole the first outing in Philly and took a 1-0 lead. Now, Young and the Hawks will meet with Thybulle and the Sixers once again on Tuesday night for Game 2 of the series.