T.J. McConnell shows his value as Indiana Pacers topple Magic

Early in the year, T.J. McConnell was out of the Pacers' rotation. Now, he's showing he's the most valuable player on the bench unit.

Mar 5, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Indiana Pacers guard T.J. McConnell (9) drives to the basket past
Mar 5, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Indiana Pacers guard T.J. McConnell (9) drives to the basket past / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Life without Bennedict Mathurin isn't going to be easy. He's the most effective bench scorer for the Indiana Pacers and is the only guy who can create his own shot from three, midrange, and at the rim. None of the other reserves can do that. Now, he's done for the year.

That means the rest of the bench is going to have to step up. In their first game without Mathurin against the Magic, that's exactly what they did. The bench was once again effective as the Pacers took down Orlando on the road 111-97. They got the win after another slow start.

Indiana actually put in their bench unit earlier than normal in the first quarter because the starters weren't getting it done. Rick Carlisle didn't like the effort that they were giving. The Magic were killing them on the boards and they had no energy. Then T.J. McConnell came in.

T.J. McConnell completely changed the Indiana Pacers when they beat the Magic

McConnell kept Indiana in the game in the first quarter when Orlando threatened to run away with it. He had eight first-quarter points and finished the game with 17. He added six rebounds and six assists and did what he always does for the Pacers; bring the energy.

McConnell was one of five Pacers that scored in double-figures. He actually played more minutes than Andrew Nembhard did in this game and it was clearly the right move. The pace at which he plays and how hard he plays defense makes him an extremely valuable member of the Indiana Pacers.

Obi Toppin was the other guy who stepped up for the Pacers off the bench. He scored 17 points on 7-9 shooting as well. He was the other guy off the bench that really stepped up. His shooting is something the bench also needs without Mathurin. McConnell does a great job of finding him too.

Next. Next story. It's time for Jarace Walker to earn more minutes for the Pacers. dark

We might see more times where McConnell plays more minutes than Nembhard. He just brings something to the floor that Nembhard doesn't. If the Pacers want to play themselves out of the play-in game, they're going to need McConnell to keep doing McConnell things.