Sixers-Celtics Game 4 observations: T.J. McConnell's presence, Robert Covington's struggles

Sixers Ben Simmons and T.J. McConnell celebrate after the Game 4 triumph.

Here are my main takeaways and “best” and “worst” awards from the 76ers’ 103-92 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Five observations

  • T.J. McConnell has come a long way in the eyes of Sixers fans. The Sixers point guard was serenaded to chants of “T.J … T.J … T.J!” on Monday. One fan even yelled “White Sugar! White Sugar! That’s my man!” after a McConnell first-half basket. However, there was a time back during the 2015-16 season when some Sixers fans wondered if the undrafted rookie deserved to be in the league. Now, two seasons later, he’s a fan favorite.
  • On this evening, it was easy to see why Philly fans fell in love with McConnell. The Sixers would probably be having exit interviews with coach Brett Brown and the front office if not for McConnell’s heroics. The third-year veteran was inserted in the starting lineup and scored a career-high 19 points. But it was also his defensive tenacity, heart and diving after loose balls that propelled the Sixers to victory, forcing a Game 5. He has a plus-38 rating in 77 minutes during the series.
  • To say Robert Covington is having a tough time in this series would be the understatement of the season. It didn’t matter that the small forward came off the bench this time. Shots still weren’t falling, as he missed six of his seven attempts en route to finishing with three points. He’s shooting 9 for 36 (25 percent) in the series.
  • The Sixers squad that matched the Miami’s Heat physicality finally showed up in Game 4. Philly showed some grit and heart while going toe-to-toe with the Celtics. For the first time all series, Boston looked vulnerable and frustrated.
  • Covington wasn’t the only Sixer who struggled. Standout reserves Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova were a combined 4 for 17 from the field. Belinelli was 2 for 10, and Ilyasova was 2 for 7.

“Best” and “worst” awards

  • Best performanceMcConnell gets this on an evening when he shot 9 for 12. He also had seven rebounds and five assists.
  • Worst performance: This award goes to Covington.
  • Best defensive performance: You have to give this to Al Horford. The Boston center had a game-high three blocks to go with a steal.
  • Worst statistic: This  goes to Covington for shooting 1 for 7.
  • Best statistic: This goes to the Sixers’ 53 rebounds.

Coverage links

Here are links to more coverage of Game 4.

Keith Pompey: Sixers avoid elimination with 103-92 victory as T.J. McConnell provides a spark

Keith Pompey: Joel Embiid records sixth straight postseason double-double

Bob Ford: Sixers take their chances against Celtics and live to play again

Mike Sielski: T.J. McConnell a surprising savior for the Sixers in Game 4 against Celtics

David Murphy: Robert Covington had an all-star performance of a different kind in Game 4

Sarah Todd: After tough start to series, Dario Saric leads Sixers to Game 4 win over Celtics

Ed Barkowitz: Joel Embiid on skirmish: Terry Rozier’s too short

Marc Narducci: ‘They played better than us:’ Celtics lose poise, and game, to Sixers

Keith Pompey and Marc Narducci:  Sixers podcast: Talking T.J. McConnell

Ed Barkowitz: Sixers 103, Celtics 92: Quick observations from Game 4

Nick Tricome: Social media roundup: Sixers live to fight another day; here’s what they’re saying

Katie McInerney: Where are the Sixers from? Mapping the 2017-18 roster

Yong Kim and Steven M. Falk: Sixers 103, Celtics 92: See more photos from Game 4