Thybulle ineligible to play for Sixers' road game against Raptors


Sixers wing Matisse Thybulle was listed Wednesday night as "ineligible to play" for the team’s game Thursday against the Raptors. 

The Sixers’ one prior game in Toronto this season was a Dec. 28 win. Since Jan. 15, players must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter Canada. 

A team spokesperson declined comment on players’ vaccination statuses. 

Thybulle entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols in both November and January. After being cleared to return ahead of the Sixers’ Jan. 7 game against the Spurs, he said he experienced no COVID-19 symptoms and described his second entry into the league’s protocols as “confusing … just because it was different test results — inconclusive, negatives, a random positive.”

The 25-year-old expressed frustration with the protocols.

“Very frustrating, especially as the rule changes come and go on a whim, it feels like; it gets confusing,” he said. “And for a recently recovered player to get tested so soon, the concern would be false positives. To draw positives and inconclusives and have to sit out for almost a week is a little frustrating.”

After the trade deadline, Thybulle has been an every-game player for the Sixers. By missing Thursday’s game, he’ll snap a streak of 26 straight starts.

The Sixers entered Wednesday night fourth in the Eastern Conference and could rise as high as second. It’s possible they could meet the Raptors, who sat fifth in the East standings, in the opening round of the playoffs. The play-in tournament will be held April 12 through April 15 and first-round matchups will begin April 16.

If Thybulle were to be ineligible for a playoff series against Toronto, the Sixers would have several options to replace him in the starting lineup. One of those would be 34-year-old Danny Green, who’s worked closely with Thybulle and started for the Sixers last postseason before suffering a right calf strain during the second round.

In addition to Green, guard Shake Milton, forward Georges Niang, and backup center DeAndre Jordan have been recent regulars in head coach Doc Rivers’ rotation. Furkan Korkmaz started in place of the injured Green last playoffs, but he’s struggled throughout this season, shooting just 29.3 percent from three-point range. 

In the short term, Thybulle’s absence means the Sixers will be down one of the league's best perimeter defenders for a game. Charles Bassey (right shoulder pain/G League assignment), Jaden Springer (G League assignment) and Myles Powell (G League — two-way) also won’t be available Thursday. 

Toronto listed OG Anunoby (right quadriceps contusion) and Yuta Watanabe (left quadriceps soreness) as questionable. Dalano Banton, Isaac Bonga, Justin Champagnie and David Johnson will be with Raptors 905, Toronto’s G League affiliate. 

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