76ers' Thybulle excited for start of rookie season
PHILADELPHIA - Matisse Thybulle worked on his 3-point shot before a near empty Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night.
About 90 minutes later, the arena would be filled as the 76ers' rookie made his NBA regular-season debut.
"It's been a long-time coming," Thybulle said.
The 76ers began one of the most anticipated seasons in franchise history when it hosted the Boston Celtics on Wednesday. Philadelphia won 51 games and lost in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors last season.
The 76ers over/under betting line for wins this season is 54½. Anything short of reaching the Eastern Conference final would be considered a disappointment. There was plenty of excitement for Wednesday's game.
"This is my 20th year in the NBA, and nothing gets watered down," 76ers coach Brett Brown said. "You come in with juice. You come in with gratitude. You come in very excited."
Thybulle established himself player to watch in the preseason.
The 6-foot-5 swingman was named the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year as a University of Washington senior last season. The 76ers selected him with the 20th pick in the first round of June's draft.
With his ability to defend on the perimeter, deflect passes and sink open shots, Thybulle quickly became a fan favorite in the preseason where he had 12 steals and six blocks against NBA teams.
"It's still pretty surreal," Thybulle said of his connection with Philadelphia fans. "I didn't expect any of that to happen. To be embraced this well by this city has been really cool. Especially, since it's all so new to me."
Brown said the journey of any NBA player can't be taken for granted. Thybulle was born in Arizona. He moved to Australia before returning to Washington in 2005. He didn't begin taking basketball seriously until he was an eighth grader. His mother, Elizabeth, died of leukemia when he was 17.
"This one means something," Thybulle said of the season opener. "The preseason games were a good chance for us as a team and me individually to get a good feel for each other and get in the swing of things. But now these games mean something. I'm excited to get out there and play for what our goals are."
PHILADELPHIA - Brett Brown, veteran of international basketball coaching, master of the Maine accent and comfortable in conversational Australian, knows one language more than the rest. He knows it, listens to it, obeys it, appreciates it,
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