Sixers-Celtics Game 5 observations: Ben Simmons' development, Philly's horrid perimeter defense, T.J. McConnell's worth

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Sixers guard JJ Redick defending Celtics guard Terry Rozier during the second quarter.

BOSTON — Here are my main takeaways and “best” and “worst” awards from the 76ers’ 114-112 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series Wednesday night at TD Garden.

Five observations

  • This game and playoff series was a teaching moment for Ben Simmons. The rookie point guard finished with 18 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four turnovers  in Wednesday’s loss.  However, he also graded out at a game-worst minus-13. For the series, the Sixers were minus-63 with Simmons on the court. They were plus-48 when he didn’t play.
  • T.J. McConnell, once again, proved that he is worth more than the “Hinkie Special” four-year, non-guaranteed contract he signed as a free agent back in 2015.  He scored nine points on 4-for-7 shooting – including making his lone three-pointer.  The third-year veteran, who was inserted into the starting lineup Monday for Game 4, took up some of the slack during the times Simmons struggled.
  • The Sixers are going to have to shore up their perimeter defense. JJ Redick and Marco Belinelli are among the league’s best three-point shooters. However, they had a tough time keeping defenders in front of them all series. Wednesday was no different. Because of his defensive struggles,  Belinelli didn’t play in the second half.
  • For Robert Covington, this is a good time for the season to end. The small forward struggled this series. This game wasn’t that much different. As with Redick and Belinelli, Covington had a tough time on defense.  He also finished with five points on 2-for-5 shooting. He went 1 for 3 on three-pointers. One of those attempts was an airball.
  • Turnovers killed the Sixers just as much as their inability to keep opposing players in front of them. They committed 17 , with five each in the first and third quarters.

“Best” and “worst” awards

  • Best performanceJaylen Brown gets this on a night he scored 24 points and shot 10 for 13. The Celtics shooting guard also had four rebounds and two assists.
  • Worst performance: This award goes to the Celtics’ Marcus Morris. The North Philly native had more personal fouls (five) than baskets (one). The reserve small forward ended up shooting 1 for 10.
  • Best defensive performance: You have to give this to Al Horford. The Boston center had a game-high five steals.
  • Worst statistic: This  goes to Morris for shooting 1 for 10.
  • Best statistic: This goes to the Sixers’ 54 points in the paint.

Game 5 coverage links

Keith Pompey: Sixers’ magical season ended by Celtics in NBA playoffs

Bob Ford: Sixers’ good isn’t good enough against Celtics in NBA playoffs

Marcus Hayes: Robert Covington’s struggles cost the Sixers against Celtics in NBA playoffs elimination

David Murphy: Celtics’ NBA playoff win teaches Sixers a lot about where they need to go from here

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