PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia 76ers will take on the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the NBA playoffs, and defensive specialist Matisse Thybulle will be able to play in only the Sixers’ home games.
Unvaccinated foreign nationals are currently prohibited from entering Canada, and Thybulle is not fully vaccinated. Limited exemptions to the rule no longer apply to professional athletes, and as such, coach Doc Rivers said Sunday that Thybulle would be « ineligible » for Games 3 and 4.
Thybulle, after the 76ers’ 118-106 victory over the Detroit Pistons Sunday, said he was raised in a « holistic household » and declined to become fully vaccinated. He said he did feel the need to get one shot last season but did not go through with any more, saying « I felt like I had a solid foundation of medical resources that could serve me beyond what this vaccine could do for me. »
« It was not the outcome that I wanted, » he said. « It’s always hard to not be available. »
Thybulle said he has accepted that his decision could hurt the Sixers, his reputation and future earnings, but he did not see any benefits he could get from trying « alternative medicine. »
« I made this choice and thought I could keep it to myself, I could keep it quiet, » Thybulle said.
Thybulle’s situation is not news to Rivers and the Sixers, who finished with the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and seemed headed to a postseason date with Toronto for a while.
« We pretty much knew it going into the game, » Rivers said Sunday. « So we’ll be ready. »
As for the regular-season finale, Joel Embiid and James Harden sat out, leaving Shake Milton and Tyrese Maxey to take lead roles in the 12-point victory.
Rivers will give the Sixers a day off Monday and use Tuesday for film before running playoff practices.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.