The Boston Celtics are fading. It is kind of sad, really. Their return to prominence and battles with the Los Angeles Lakers in two of the last three NBA Finals restored some badly needed glamour to the league.
Only now the Celtics are shrinking before our very eyes, seeming to grow smaller by the game.
They are the oldest team in the league, but hardly looked it early in the season when they where thumping the upstart Miami Heat and beating the Lakers in Los Angeles in January.
Now they do look old, past their prime, like a spent team who have given us one last hurrah.
In their last 14 games, the Celtics are 6-8. Once they had the best record in the East, but now trail the Chicago Bulls by three-and-a-half games. And the surging Lakers now have a better record, and home-court advantage even if the Celtics somehow make an unexpected charge.
Do not expect it to happen. The Celtics have lost their mojo and will probably be missing Kendrick Perkins, the centre. If they are counting on Shaquille O'Neal, at 39, to get healthy and come to their rescue, they are in trouble.
The Celtics went though a similar swoon last March and then were able to turn it up in the play-offs. Sometimes veteran teams can do that, and the Celtics are nothing if not veteran.
But last year there were no Bulls getting it together. No three-headed Heat eager to prove their worth.
The Celtics have hinted at inner greatness, but I cannot see it now.