Visions of greatness have now turned into delusions. Championship aspirations have now turned into the meager goal of winning a game or maybe even two without heart-wrenching suspense or a stretch of prolonged stupor.

These 2012-13 Celtics have been reduced to laughingstocks on late-night highlight shows, basketball observers wondering what happened to the retooled bunch that was prepared to challenge Miami for the Eastern Conference title.

Those dreams have been replaced by real-life, high-definition nightmares, such as Friday night in Atlanta, when the Celtics looked so good for 18 minutes, like the team Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers envisioned, then spent the next 40 minutes reminding their beyond discouraged fan base, a bewildered coaching staff and management, and those naysayers how far from elite they really are.

A 27-point second-quarter lead was lost in a mere 11 minutes and 45 seconds. And a 9-point lead was wasted in the final 3:39 of regulation. The result was a humiliating 123-111 defeat in double overtime as the Celtics finally ran out of energy and passion while the Hawks showed more will down the stretch. It was Boston's sixth straight loss.