The Portland Trail Blazers have found themselves in a precarious situation with just 20 games left in the regular season. They are currently 1.5 games out of the play-in tournament and are in desperate need of a spark to help them secure a spot in the postseason.
A win streak could propel the Blazers into a playoff spot with just 4.5 games separating them and the fourth-place Phoenix Suns. Enter Matisse “MaTHREEse” Thybulle, the young and talented shooting guard who was acquired at the trade deadline.
Matisse Thybulle needs to be the catalyst for any Portland Trail Blazers postseason push
In his first six games with the Blazers, Thybulle has been a revelation. He is shooting an impressive 51.2 percent from the field and an even more impressive 53.8 percent from beyond the arc. These are both career highs for the fourth-year player, who has also been taking more shots per game than he ever has before.
But it’s not just his shooting that has caught the eye of Blazers fans and analysts alike. Thybulle has also been a defensive force, averaging 1.8 steals and 1.7 blocks per game, both of which are also career highs. His quick hands and tenacious defense have disrupted opposing offenses.
As a two-time Second-Team All-Defense member, this comes as no one’s surprise.
Thybulle’s defensive rating is 106.3 in 14.1 minutes per game this season, which would be good enough for 12th best in the league – in the echelon of Rudy Gobert, Nikola Jokic, and Jimmy Butler, if he could maintain that rating while playing more minutes.
His 113.6 defensive rating in his six games with the Blazers at an elevated 30.4 minutes per game puts him just behind Draymond Green, James Harden, and Caris LeVert.
Thybulle’s defense is a huge plus for the Blazers, who have the fourth-worst defensive rating (117.0) this season. Only the heavily rebuilding Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, and San Antonio Spurs are worse on defense.
It’s clear that Thybulle has the potential to be a game-changer for the Blazers, but he will need to continue his strong play if they hope to make the play-in tournament. With just 20 games left in the season, every game is crucial, and the Blazers cannot afford to let up.
Thybulle will need to be the catalyst for the Blazers on defense. He has shown that he is capable of making big plays on both ends of the court, and his energy and enthusiasm have been contagious.
If he can continue to play at this level, he could be the missing piece that helps the Blazers make a deep run in the postseason.
But it won’t be easy. The Blazers are facing some tough opponents in the final stretch of the season.
Fifteen of their remaining 21 games are against opponents currently holding a playoff/play-in spot.
The returns of Anfernee Simons, Jusuf Nurkic, and Justise Winslow will be crucial. They will need everyone on their roster to step up if they hope to make the playoffs, and Thybulle will be no exception.
If Thybulle can continue to shoot the lights out from beyond the arc and play lockdown defense, there’s no telling how far the Blazers could go. But for now, all eyes are on the play-in tournament, and the Blazers will need to rely on Thybulle to help them secure their spot.