Pacers Report Cards: Grading every Pacers player's first-round performance

How did every Indiana Pacer perform in the team's first playoff series win since 2014?
Milwaukee Bucks v Indiana Pacers - Game Six
Milwaukee Bucks v Indiana Pacers - Game Six / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
7 of 11

T.J. McConnell

Stats: 6 Games, 18 MPG, 9.5 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 4.5 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.2 BPG, 1 TOV, 1.3 FPG 43.6/25/100 Splits on 49.4% TS

TJ McConnell is an interesting case, as his series can be divided into two sections, Game 6, and everything else.

Let's start with everything else. An established member of the rotation in the second half of the season after recording some DNPs in the first half, McConnell was expected to get plenty of minutes as Indiana's backup point guard in the playoffs, and the hope was that he could bring his veteran savvy to the big stage as he did in the regular season.

In the first five games, however, this was not the case. Outside of Doug McDermott, who only played spot minutes here and there, McConnell was perhaps Indiana's worst rotation player in this period. Looking at the stats, his 7.4 points per game on a putrid 37% from the field and only 10% from the free throw line stand by themselves, but they become even worse upon watching the games.

McConnell's veteran savvy was seemingly gone in the playoffs, as his old baseline tricks and leaning jumpers stopped being effective upon further game planning for the Bucks. Indeed, after 82 games, the Milwaukee Bucks were the first team to game plan for T.J. McConnell and it worked like a charm at first, as they essentially rendered him useless.

On defense, it was even worse, with Bucks players actively matchup-hunting him and treating him like a cone on that end. After the Game 5 loss, it looked like the Pacers would have to sit McConnell the rest of the way if they wanted a chance to win Game 6.

Then Game 6 happened.

In Game 6, McConnell made his previous faults a distant memory as he turned his fortunes around at the best possible time. He finished with 20 points and dished nine rebounds, both good for second-best on the team. Additionally, McConnell had four steals, including one of his famous inbound steals, and even hit two three-pointers.

After looking lost for the first five games of the series, McConnell played the best basketball he played all year when it mattered most, as he and a soon-to-be-named individual led Indiana in scoring and propelled them to a Game 6 victory, McConnell even outplayed Damian Lillard at times.

Grading T.J. McConnell's performance is tough, as there should be weight put in his first five games, but his final game should also be taken into consideration, especially since it was his best performance and arguably won them the game and the series. In the end, it's best to go with something in-between, and hope he keeps up that scrappy play that Pacers fans love him for.

Final Grade: C+ (Final game saved him)