When Philadelphia 76ers swingman Evan Turner's contorting floater dripped through the net at the buzzer on Wednesday night, sending the Boston Celtics to a heartbreaking loss -- their fourth straight and 19th in the past 22 games -- you could hear an audible groan from a TD Garden crowd that then went silent.
Maybe that's why I heard my phone buzzing. It was a stream of messages from my closest friends, who I would classify as die-hard Celtics fans (maybe even season-ticket holders who happily donated their tickets to the Basement Bowl to Seats for Soldiers). One wrote simply, "Perfect game."
The insinuation, and we've discussed this before, is this: Many Celtics fans are perfectly content to watch this transitioning team play hard, be entertaining, nurture the development of young players, and -- most importantly -- lose. The more defeats, the better potential for a higher draft pick that can help the team avoid defeats in future seasons.
Some of you are reading this and you are reddening through your green-and-white face paint. "Those aren't real fans!" Actually, they are. They get it. If Turner's floater rolls off the rim, those same friends probably snap their fingers, then revel in having been thoroughly entertained for two hours. It's a win-win for them regardless of the outcome, but especially when the Celtics lose.
It'd be easier if this season wasn't so darn screwy. The Celtics flip-flopped with Philadelphia and now own the third-worst record in basketball through Wednesday's action. Unfathomably, Boston is just as close to a playoff berth (5½ games) as it is to owning the worst record in the NBA.
Even Brad Stevens admitted last week that "it's a unique year in the East. To think that we would be that close to a playoff spot is pretty ridiculous considering what our record is."
Celtics fans remain conflicted. There are those who bristle at the notion of paying top dollar to attend games that -- like Tuesday in New York -- can get ugly in a hurry. Others understand the balance and try to keep their eyes on what Boston is building toward.
That's where we start the latest edition of the Celtics Mailbag: