Minimizing T.J. McConnell’s Minutes Was Tough for Brett Brown
Ever since his arrival on the Philadelphia 76ers, T.J. McConnell has established himself somewhat as the heart and soul of the team. As McConnell remains one of the last men standing from 'The Process' era before what it became today - many fans, players, and coaches have a soft spot in their heart for McConnell. He may not be the flashiest player on the court or even the most productive for that matter. But he makes up for all of that with his grittiness and one-hundred percent effort during every moment in the game.
Despite being a bench player, McConnell still finds himself in some significant situations for the Sixers. Last season, McConnell won the backup minutes in the playoffs over the Sixers' first-overall pick, Markelle Fultz, who they later traded. Nothing would change this year, as McConnell was still viewed as the top backup option when Ben Simmons takes a breather from the point guard position.
McConnell averaged 13.4 minutes-per-game during the regular season, but Sixers' Head Coach Brett Brown attempted to give him more during the Game 1 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. The backup guard would appear on the court for 16 minutes and managed to put up four points, off of four shots. Although he was a plus-12 while in the game during the loss, Brown figured that a drastic change needed to be made for the second game.
So with that, McConnell saw his minutes get cut down from 16 to 10 on Monday during Game 2. Most of that time came during garbage minutes in the end when the game was pretty much in the bag for the Sixers. The Sixers didn't have a need for McConnell, as it all worked out without him. But just because Brown made the decision to cut McConnell's minutes, doesn't mean it was an easy one.
"That's a difficult decision because T.J. has been sort of a part of our bloodline for a while," Brown stated during his postgame press conference on Monday night. "The energy that he injects is contagious, and we all get that." Although Brown felt bad about cutting down McConnell's minutes, the veteran guard didn't take it to heart. Apparently, he handled it very well, and nobody thought a situation like that, regarding McConnell, would go any differently.
Does this mean McConnell won't see any more than 10 minutes-per-game in the playoffs? Well, that remains to be seen. The Sixers looked dominant on Monday, but over a two-day break, a lot of things can change. The 76ers will have to take it all one game at a time, but so far it seems like relying on Butler to play backup point guard seems more reliable than forcing the minutes to McConnell.
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