The Philadelphia Sixers have a tough task ahead: to be the first team in NBA history to come back from a 0-3 deficit in a playoff series and win it. On Monday night, they took a small but significant step toward this goal by winning game four of the Eastern Conference semifinals, at home. 103-92 was the final score for Phila against the Boston Celtics. Tonight at the TD Garden in Boston, the Sixers will face the first of possibly three no-tomorrow matches. The goal is to turn the series around, which is not the easiest thing to do by any means.

The Celtics dug a big hole in the first three games, and the Sixers stumbled in it. Climbing back out will require a massive effort from all the players, with no margin for error.

The Sixers, though, came away from Monday night’s match with three elements of analysis.

TJ McConnell impresses

The story of Game four was, of course, TJ McConnell’s performance. It was the first start in a playoff match for him. It ended with a career-high and a win. Kevin Arnovitz on ESPN went a little bit behind the scenes on why coach Brett Brown and his staff decided to start the former Arizona University in place of Robert Covington. As Arnovitz reported, it was Brown’s assistant Lloyd Pierce (who, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J.

Spears of ESPN, had an interview for the coaching vacancy with the Atlanta Hawks) to break the news to the point guard.

McConnell's primary duty was to raise the spirit of the team and lead with enthusiasm. McConnell’s impact on the game and the Sixers overall was evident. His stat line was impressive: nineteen points, nine out of twelve from the field, seven rebounds, five assists, no turnovers and no steals.

Nevertheless, his importance went beyond those cold numbers.

With McConnell leading the charge, the way the Sixers approached the game was what the coaching staff envisioned. In the first place. It was about playing with the heart on the sleeves and raising the pulse of a group who was feeling dejected after losing three times in a row in the most unexpected ways.

Then it was about winning the game. Both missions were accomplished. It was an ugly win for the Sixers indeed. Nonetheless, its importance could be massive.

Dario Saric showed up, finally

Sixers game plan was to give the ball to its bigs and attack the paint in full force. Dario Saric finally showed up and brought his versatility and aggressiveness into this series. In the three playoff losses against the Celtics, the Croatian looked hesitant, especially on offense. His numbers weren't good enough (12.3 points per game, 37.1 percent on FGA and 28.6 percent from three-point range, courtesy of In game four, however, Saric finally regained his mojo.

He was aggressive and kept attacking the basket, without hesitations.

At the end of that game, 25 were the points scored by the Sixers power forward, with 52.9 percent from the field, eight rebounds, four assists and, more importantly, no turnovers. Physicality and versatility are two of the most prominent skills the Sixers have across the board, especially with their big men. Unfortunately, they haven't been able to fully exploit them in the first three games against Boston. Monday night, at the eleventh hour, they were able to do it and, all of a sudden, things turned in their favor.

Quantity over quality

The win in game four undoubtedly contributes to change the mood within the team, but it doesn’t radically modify the entire complexion of the series for Philadelphia.

What stood out during Monday's 48 minutes of play, watching how things developed, was that the team continued its shooting slump.

Sixers’ players are struggling with their field goal percentages. They are missing shots, many of them are quality ones. Sometimes they seem to settle for the first available look without moving the ball well enough to make Boston's defense sweat. Some others, they rush to the basket without a clear purpose.

Things are different when Philadelphia moves the ball from side to side or when there’s enough patience to explore the different options of an offensive play. Also when JJ Redick works the quarter of the court exploiting Joel Embiid's massive screens, those are the times when the Sixers look effective, and the offense seems to gain some traction.

Why did the Sixers win game four, then? Well, maybe because they took nineteen shots more than Boston (94 to 75). Then because they grabbed eleven more rebounds (53 to 42) than the Celtics matched to the fact that they had a clear advantage on points off turnovers (16 versus three). Finally, Philadelphia scored 52 points in the paint against Boston’s 30. It was quantity over quality, and it worked great in game four.

Now the question is: will this be enough in the next three matches to make history, starting from tonight in Boston?