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.
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 performance: Jaylen 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