Philadelphia 76ers: T.J. McConnell replaces Markelle Fultz at backup PG

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

After being bypassed in favor of Markelle Fultz at the start of the series, T.J. McConnell appears once again locked in as the Philadelphia 76ers backup point guard.

Hey Philadelphia 76ers fans, T.J. Mac is back!

After falling out of a favor with the Brett Brown regime following the reinsertion and very public emergence of Markelle Fultz, third-year point guard T.J. McConnell finally looks like he’s back in the coaches good graces, and has fully retaken the backup point guard position he lost going into the playoffs.

And honestly, it’s a really smart move for all parties involved.

More from Philadelphia 76ers

Over the first three games of the 76ers playoff series against the Miami Heat, Fultz received the nod as the first man off the bench to spell Ben Simmons, and needless to say, it did not go particularly well.

Recording a +12, -1, and -9 efficiencies in each of his first three appearances, the Sixers offense has notably stalled out whenever Fultz was inserted into the game, with the most egregious occurrence happening in Game 3, when the Heat launched into a 13-5 run over his four minutes in the game that swiftly the momentum in Miami’s favor by cutting the lead to single digits.

While Fultz still brings energy to an offense and as effectively proven that he’s a player who should have a big impact in 2018, he often becomes an iso black hole when the balls in his hand, resulting in often times ill-advised drives at the basket while forgoing higher percentage looks around the court.

Though it was fine to give Fultz playing time down the stretch in the regular season, as the Sixers had already guaranteed themselves a spot in the playoffs and were certainly playing with house money against lesser teams, every possession in the playoffs holds immense value, and for that reason it’s imperative that the 76ers always have the best five men on the court at any given time.

Which brings us to McConnell.

While far from the fastest, strongest or most gifted player in the league, McConnell is pure Philly toughness, a gritty guard who’s always down to fight for a loose ball, play some pesky defense, and go in for the steal, and in only 14 minutes of action so far this playoff series, he’s made his presence known.

After Fultz struggled in the first half of Game 3, McConnell received the nod to play in the second half and recorded five points and a steal to help quell any hopes of the Heat ripping off a run to retake the lead in a gritty, back-and-forth game.

And apparently, that was enough to convince Brett Brown to make the change a permanent one.

Related Story: The reintroduction of Justin Anderson

In the Sixers Game 4 victory over Miami at American Airlines Arena, McConnell received all of the team’s backup snaps at point guard, awarding the team with two points and four rebounds in nine minutes of action, whereas Fultz sat on the bench and recorded a DNP, his first in almost a month.

While it’s obviously important to keep Fultz involved as he will eventually become a key piece to the 76ers roster moving forward, winning now has to be the priority, and giving the nod to a proven role-player like McConnell simply makes the team better in the short-term.

Next: 3 reasons Game 5 is must-win scenario for the Philadelphia 76ers

Though the game plan may be reevaluated going into the second round, as Fultz matches up exceptionally well against the depleted guard tandem of the Boston Celtics, it’s clear the McConnell is back in the forefront of the 76ers mind, and that should make all Philly fans proud.