Pacers Report Cards: Grading every Pacers player's Conference Finals performance

How did every Indiana Pacer perform in the team's Conference Finals loss against Boston?
Boston Celtics v Indiana Pacers - Game Four
Boston Celtics v Indiana Pacers - Game Four / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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T.J. McConnell

Stats: 4 Games, 24.1 MPG, 15 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 4.3 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.3 TOV, 2 FPG 50/28.6/66.7 Splits on 53% TS

Man, can you believe this guy was getting DNPs to start the series?

Already seen as a playoff performer after his fantastic end to the Milwaukee series and performance for the entire Knicks series, T.J. McConnell was expected to continue that production in the Conference Finals, this time against another formidable backup point guard in Boston's Payton Pritchard. While the obvious matchups to watch were Haliburton and Siakam vs Tatum and Brown, Pritchard vs McConnell was arguably just as anticipated by certain fans of the game.

In the first two games, T.J. McConnell did typical T.J. McConnell things, as he played fantastically backing up Tyrese Haliburton, averaging 11 points through Games 1 and 2 and being a pest on defense.

However, McConnell's rise, similar to Nembhard's, came in the final two games, With Haliburton out, McConnell played 29 minutes in Game 3 and 25 in Game 4, which were the most minutes he played in this year's playoffs. Not only did he play more, he performed at a much higher level.

T.J. McConnell exploded in Game 3 for 23 points on 10/17 shooting, nine rebounds, and six assists to provide one hell of a point-guard scoring duo with Andrew Nembhard. He followed this up with a solid 15 points on 7/16 shooting, five rebounds, and four assists in Game 4 to try his best to fend off elimination.

McConnell's antics from the first two rounds were not only repeated in the Conference Finals but magnified. He took advantage of Boston's lack of rim protection with Kristaps Porzingis out and attacked inside as much as he could, with 34 of his 54 shot attempts in the final four games coming from inside the paint.

Additionally, McConnell's leaning mid-range jumper was automatic as usual, as he shot 6/13 from the area between the paint and the three-point line. On defense, McConnell couldn't do much against Tatum and Brown, but he remained a pest and made it very hard for players to even dribble around him.

If, for some strange reason, Pacers fans did not appreciate T.J. McConnell before the Celtics series, they certainly have to now. McConnell's never-wavering attitude and constant desire to play every game like it's Game 7 of the NBA Finals showed in this series, as he tried his best to keep the Pacers in the series and was a major part of why they were even competitive in three of the four games.