Matisse Thybulle discusses challenges of Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal

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It is no secret that the Washington Wizards backcourt of Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal offer up a lot of challenges for any team. Westbrook plays with such intensity and an ability to score as well as get his teammates involved and Beal is a scoring machine and both of them need a lot of attention from the opposition.

The Philadelphia 76ers did a solid job against the tandem in Game 1 as they forced each player into six turnovers, but they still put up big numbers. Westbrook had 16 points and 14 assists while Beal had 33 points, but that is a testament to how talented both players are.

The Sixers have a couple of elite perimeter defenders in the form of Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle who will get the large share of minutes against the tandem. While both of them did a solid job in the Game 1 win against, for example, Beal, he still did get 33 points and there are a lot of things that make him a special talent.

“I don’t think we have enough time to discuss,” laughed Thybulle at shootaround on Wednesday. “The dude’s an offensive Juggernaut. We have Joel Embiid, but they have Bradley Beal. It’s tough and you see how much we got to throw at him just to try and slow him down and even then, it’s just trying to slow him down. He’s an incredible player.”

While Beal is looking to find an opening with his scoring in terms of either getting to the basket or smoothly knocking down a pull-up jumper, Westbrook is constantly trying to get to the basket. He is putting pressure on the defense every time down as a guy who can either do some damage with his scoring or his passing.

“They’re very different players,” said Thybulle. “Westbrook’s difficult because he’s so fast you try to play off him a little bit, but by doing that, you open up passing lanes for him to find guys and he’s such an incredible passer that it’s also playing to one of his strengths.”

One thing a defense is trying to do against Westbrook is try to force him into mid-range shots. He shoots just 39.2% on pull-up jumpers and 38.1% on jumpers categorized as mid-range distance per NBA Stats. At the end of the day, to take away his driving lanes is easier said than done.

“It’s trying to find this balance of, say, a cat and mouse trying to play close enough that he won’t just pick apart the defense,” Thybulle continued. “But also playing not far enough that he can’t just run through you and get to the hoop.”

Game 2 between the teams is set for 7 p.m. EDT on Wednesday.

This post originally appeared on Sixers Wire! Follow us on Facebook!

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