Most of the national interest honed in upon Saturday’s matchup between the Philadelphia 76ers and Golden State Warriors at the Wells Fargo Center wasn’t on the home team.
The days leading up to the tilt between the East and West heavyweights were spent speculating on when Warriors superstar and future Hall of Famer Stephen Curry would break Ray Allen’s all-time three-point shooting record.
Curry entered Saturday’s matchup needing just 10 to set the record — suggesting that he’d be letting it fly early and often against Philadelphia.
But the 76ers countered with one of the best young defenders in the game in Matisse Thybulle, who got the best of the seven-time All-Star and two-time league MVP.
In the Sixers’ 102-93 victory, Curry was held to just 6-of-20 shooting from the field in one of his worst performances of the season. That included sinking just 3 three-pointers out of 14 attempts with only one of them coming against Thybulle on 9 attempts.
Thybulle blocked two of those attempts, becoming the first player ever to block multiple three-point attempts by Curry in a single game.
It was a major spark to fuel the 76ers’ victory and erase a sluggish loss to the Utah Jazz just two nights earlier.
“I give Thybulle credit,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “I thought he was fantastic defensively. He’s a rare combination of length and athleticism and brains and he did as good a job on Steph as anybody I’ve seen in a long time.”
So, how did Thybulle do it?
“Playing hard,” he said. “But seriously, just having guys willing to let me take on that one-on-one matchup and play the rest of the team four-on-four. And be able to over-rotate and get into a lot of really tough rotational situations on defense. And put out a lot of fires to allow me to just stay to the body and not let Steph get anything easy.”
Really, that’s all it came down to when guarding one of the NBA’s greatest players and arguably its best shooter.
“There are no secrets to guarding people like that,” Thybulle continued. “You’ve got to play really hard. You’ve got to be willing to get scored on. He’s going to make some spectacular plays and you have to be able to play through that and just trying to be a consistent force and not let his success take you on a roller coaster.”
Keep this up and Thybulle will only improve on his standing of second-team All-Defensive honors he earned last season.