The Philadelphia 76ers were booed near the end of their home finale on Tuesday, April 17. That is stunning considering how great the team once looked at home earlier in the season. But after falling to the Indiana Pacers 102-97, the fans were ready to express frustration with the way the team has tanked since the All-Star break. As the final seconds of the home season ticked away, the fans did just that. The 76ers wanted to matter again in this city. This is a sure sign that they do.
You can't blame the fans for being angry. After a dominant start to the home schedule, the team ended up with a fairly ordinary 19-14 record at the Wells Fargo Center and has lost all four home games in April. They are now 31-30 on the season and will play their final five games on the road. The New York Knicks are now ahead of them in the standing and the Milwaukee Bucks are right around the corner. The reality that this team might miss the playoffs is starting to hit home. Fans really bought into this team and they are being rewarded with one of the worst collapses in franchise history.
Philadelphia fans boo when a team doesn't seem to play with passion. To be fair, the 76ers fought hard in this game. However, it still served as a microcosm of everything that has gone wrong. The defense failed once again as Indiana was able to drain three pointers at will. The 76ers were in this game until the fourth quarter before they faded away. That has happened a lot lately and fans are growing tired of it. Meanwhile, the ongoing Evan Turner saga took another ugly turn when he had zero points and attempted just three shots.
The 76ers should look at the booing as a positive. In recent years, fans didn't react to this team one way or the other. The 76ers were an afterthought. Booing is a form of passion and that means that fans really care about this team again. If these current players bother to realize that, it might motivate them in their final five games. Fans want to care about their basketball team and booing is a sign of that. It is up to the players to do their job and prevent that from happening.
* - Mark Paul is a Philadelphia resident and lifelong 76ers fan.