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Joel Embiid and James Harden headed to Toronto for the playoffs. Defensive specialist Matisse Thybulle remains for road games; he is not fully vaccinated and prohibited from entering Canada.
Embiid sat out after picking up the scoring title and Harden joined him on the bench, leaving Shake Milton and Tyrese Maxey to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 118-106 win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night.
The Sixers finished with the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and will open against Toronto.
“We knew that pretty much before the game,” coach Doc Rivers said. “Then we will be ready.”
They will try to beat the Raptors without Thybulle.
Unvaccinated foreign nationals are currently not permitted to enter Canada. Limited exemptions to the rule no longer apply to professional athletes. Rivers said Thybulle would be “ineligible” for Games 3 and 4.
Thybulle said he was raised in a “holistic home” and refused to be fully vaccinated. He said he felt the need to get vaccinated last season but didn’t do any more, saying: “I felt like I had a strong base of medical resources that could help me. serve beyond what this vaccine could do for me.
“It wasn’t the result I wanted,” he said. “It’s always hard not to be available.”
Thybulle said he accepted his decision could hurt the Sixers, his reputation and his future earnings, but he saw no benefit he could derive from trying “alternative medicine”.
“I made that choice and thought I could keep it to myself, I could keep it quiet,” Thybulle said.
Milton scored 30 points, and Maxey and Paul Reed had 25. Luka Garza led the Pistons with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Embiid sat at the end of the bench and Harden pulled the hood of his sweatshirt over his head and they both watched as the Sixers rallied with a 15-point lead to knock the Pistons to 59 losses.
Allen Iverson was in the house and the last Sixer to win a scoring title – four, in fact – was able to share the arena with this season’s champion. Embiid finished at 30.6 points per game. Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo was also rested on Sunday, finishing at 29.9 points. Embiid posted those numbers in just 33.8 minutes per game, the fewest minutes averaged in a season by the champion goalscorer in the stopwatch era. He also became the first international player to win a scoring and first center title since Shaquille O’Neal in 1999-00.
Sixers fans erupted in “MVP! MVP!” chants for Embiid when he was celebrated on the big screen for his goalscoring title.
Harden also had a draw and averaged 21 points and 7.1 rebounds in 21 games with the Sixers. He’s been plagued with hamstring issues since playing with Brooklyn – the Nets sent him to Philadelphia for Ben Simmons in a trade deadline deal – but Rivers said that Harden was fine.
“He’s in a good position, I can tell,” Rivers said. “Regarding the conditioning, it is well placed. We have a week to improve things a bit. The hamstring, from everything they tell me, is in a very good place. That’s the biggest worry, but I don’t have much. Going by our staff, they feel pretty good with him.
Rivers will give the Sixers a day off Monday and use Tuesday for movies before kicking off playoff practices.