The Indiana Pacers have lost two consecutive games without T.J. McConnell.
Following the birth of his first child, Indiana Pacers guard T.J. McConnell has been away from the team. McConnell, who struggled in the preseason and a bit of the first few games, has grown into the role player that we have expected him to be for the Pacers. He is the leader of the second unit, providing energy and hustle off the bench when needed the most.
The Pacers have dealt with injuries already this season, and that has made it difficult to find a role for Aaron Holiday, another crucial piece to the second unit. In the loss to Sacramento, Holiday moved back to the bench after starting in place of T.J. Warren after his injury. Instead, Justin Holiday started and his younger brother moved back to his normal spot in the rotation while McConnell was away from the team.
But as Aaron continues to struggle to his shots and create for others, the Pacers desperately need someone off the bench that can make plays until McConnell returns. Doug McDermott is playing at a high level right now but cannot be viewed as a primary ball-handler by any means. That could also be the reason for Edmond Sumner receiving extra minutes over the last two games.
Sumner, similar to McConnell, plays with a ton of energy and uses that to his advantage. Last night, Sumner scored eight points and hauled in three rebounds in his 11 minutes off the bench. He missed time at the start of the season with an illness and could not carve out minutes in the rotation, but Sumner’s time is finally coming.
There is no word on when McConnell will return, and rightfully so. Spending time with his wife and their first child is the top priority right now for good reason. Until he returns, the Pacers need to find a way to create offensively with the second unit on the floor. Tonight is the second night of a back-to-back, so Victor Oladipo may not be available either.
Jeremy Lamb, T.J. McConnell, and T.J. Warren cannot come back soon enough for the Indiana Pacers.