Matisse Thybulle Ineligible to Play Thursday in Toronto

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer

The NBA's injury report on Wednesday night revealed some troubling news for the Philadelphia 76ers. The team will be without defensive standout Matisse Thybulle, who showed up on the injury report as "ineligible to play" in Thursday's game in Toronto against the Raptors.

Canada instituted a stricter vaccine requirement barring unvaccinated professional and amateur athletes from traveling inside the country beginning back on Jan. 15. Fully vaccinated, according to the mandate, means being 14 days removed from either the second shot of a two-dose vaccine or the the lone dose of the one-shot vaccine.

ESPN's Tim Bontemps reported last week of a potential issue surrounding the Sixers and potential problems with vaccination status. Thybulle being "ineligible to play" in Thursday's game in Toronto likely is due to him being unvaccinated. He was on the NBA's health and safety protocols list twice earlier this season, once in November and once in January. He did play in the Sixers' lone game in Toronto earlier this season back on Dec. 28, but that was before the mandate went into effect.

This news has major potential implications for both Thursday's game as well as a future potential playoff series against the Raptors. The Eastern Conference standings are tightly packed together, with the Sixers, Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics heading into Wednesday night tied at 49-30. It is clear at this point those three teams will finish second through fourth in the conference, the only question is how the order plays out. With three games remaining on the Sixers' schedule, each game has a ton of importance for playoff seeding. Having Thybulle miss the game on Thursday against the Raptors could potentially cost the Sixers in the seeding and in a potential playoff matchup with Toronto.

With the current order of the standings (again very much subject to change over the final five days of the regular season), the Sixers are in line to play Toronto in the first round in the No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup. If that were to be the case, Thybulle would be set to miss up to three games in the series.

If the scenario above plays out and the Sixers face Toronto in the first round, the Sixers will be at an extreme disadvantage. Thybulle is the team's best perimeter defender, and wing depth is one of the areas of concern in this roster. Danny Green would presumably be thrust into the starting lineup with the remainder of the minutes being divided among Georges Niang, Shake Milton and Furkan Korkmaz. Each of those players would be no match for the trio of players Thybulle could potentially be tasked with defending: Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Scottie Barnes. The Sixers, in any potential game in Toronto, would have to make major adjustments to their overall defensive matchups and strategy.

Stay tuned to find out how this wild regular season finishes out and how much this Thybulle news will potentially impact the team throughout the playoffs.

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