Sixers’ Matisse Thybulle returns after ‘confusing’ stint in health and safety protocols

Matisse Thybulle was in the 76ers’ starting lineup for Friday’s home game against San Antonio after a “confusing” second stint in health and safety protocols in less than two months. Thybulle said a series of tests gave an inconclusive, negative and “random positive” result, which forced him to miss two games in about a week.

“Very frustrating,” Thybulle said, adding that he was asymptomatic, “especially as rule changes come and go. [on] like a whim, it seems. It becomes confusing as a recently recovered player to get tested so early, and then the concern would be the false positives. “

Thybulle missed seven games in November while in protocols. He entered Friday averaging 5.5 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game and remains one of the NBA’s top perimeter defenders.

Thybulle’s return was particularly well received as the Sixers remain shorthanded on the perimeter. Starting winger Danny Green was available to play on Friday, but “with a very strict minute restriction” due to calf strain, coach Doc Rivers said.

Playmaker Tyrese Maxey (health and safety protocols), backup playmaker Shake Milton (back bruise), reserve goalie Isaiah Joe (back pain) and rookie Jaden Springer (health and safety protocols) security) all remain absent.

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Less than a week after his 10-day contract with the Sixers expired, Tyler Johnson was on the opposite bench after signing a deal with Spurs on Thursday – much to Rivers’ dismay.

“I would have liked to keep it, honestly,” Rivers said. “He walked away from us and I thought he might help us. “

The veteran goaltender has played three games for the Sixers, making four of his 10 shooting attempts and averaging 3.7 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. He went into health and safety protocols ahead of last Thursday’s game in Brooklyn. Around the same time, Milton, Green, and Andre Drummond returned from the protocols.

Rivers sees Johnson as a fringe player who could recover in the league during this unique time when teams can recruit additional players to combat roster exhaustion when multiple players enter health and safety protocols. The 29-year-old averages 9.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game while shooting 36 percent of the three-point range over an eight-year career.

“[He’s an] NBA player, if you know what I mean? Rivers said. “Smart, shoots the ball well and has a lot of grain. “

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The kickoff for the Jan. 14 Sixers home game against the Boston Celtics has been moved to 7 p.m. and will no longer be televised by ESPN. The network will instead broadcast the Golden State-Chicago game in that time slot.

While Rivers coached the Los Angeles Clippers, he had several dates with legendary actor Sidney Poitier, who died at the age of 94 on Friday.

“A thrill of a lifetime,” Rivers said of interactions with the man who became the first black artist to win the Oscar for Best Actor in 1964.

Guess who’s coming to dinner is Rivers’ favorite film from Poitou. The coach hopes the outpouring of memories from Poitier will help the younger generation know his impact.

“For black America, he was the first for us that we saw in roles of dignity,” Rivers said. “And he behaved that way.”

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