The Celtics didn't win, but they sent a message to Miami tonight: 'see you in the playoffs'

"There's no such thing as a good loss."

I'd say that I agree with the above statement 99% of the time. Especially in professional sports. But the Celtics 105-103 loss to the Heat to the Heat tonight falls in the other 1%. Sure the loss sucked something fierce. A 17 point 1st half lead and a 13 point cushion with 8:27 to go fell by the wayside. Boston turned the ball over 20 times, and shot just 3-10 in the final four minutes of action. A statement win was sitting right there, in front of their face, and they couldn't seal the deal.

With that said, the C's sent a message tonight to Miami. They went toe to toe to a fully healthy Heat squad without 2 of their top 3 players (and 4 of their top 9), and had Miami on the brink of their first loss in over six weeks.

For everything Miami has done over the past two seasons, they can't shake the Celtics. Boston is as close to an ideal match-up with the Heat as there is, and tonight only reinforced that. The C's have the ability to guard both Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh 1-on-1 when KG is healthy, something that very few teams can say. While Lebron kills the Celtics, he kills everyone. If Miami hadn't gotten a monster performance from Mario Chalmers (21 points on 4-5 shooting from deep), they would have lost to the C's sans Garnett despite a ton of unforced errors by Boston, and yet another vintage line from LBJ (37/12/7).

Tonight also saw Jeff Green break out on a national stage. Green has been playing really well now for nearly two months, putting up a 15/4/2 line with 1.2 blocks over 30 MPG since Rondo went down for the season, but tonight was different. Tonight Green showed everybody what he could be, showing a combination of athleticism, finishing ability and shooting touch that very few players have. While he's not going to score 43 very often, he's a weapon off the bench that Miami has trouble keeping up with.

Lebron is awesome, but the C's match up well with his teammates
Last season the Heat got over the hump, and their Game 6 win in Boston showed that they have what it takes to beat the C's. But they still look incredibly uncomfortable here. Wade plays his worst against Boston (again - Bradley), and Bosh never looks at home at the garden. Lebron will always be Lebron, but with a healthy Garnett - the Celtics can beat Miami. As great as the Heat are, you can see them tighten up when they play the Celts. That doesn't guarantee Boston will win, after all - Miami has more talent. But it opens the door. Miami wants nothing to do with the Celtics come playoff time. In fact, I bet if you hooked Erik Spoelstra up to a polygraph, and asked him to rank the teams he wants to see come playoff time - Boston would be dead last.

While a lot of people seem to hang their hat on the fact that the Heat escaped Boston with Rondo in uniform last season, those people are missing part of the picture. Last season's team had Rondo, sure, but they also played Mickael Pietrus, Keyon Dooling, Greg Stiemsma and Ryan Hollins. This year the Celtics have added Bradley, Green, Courtney Lee, Jason Terry and Chris Wilcox to the mix. While none of those guys are Rondo, is it possible the total talent added equals the total talent lost? I think it might be.

At the end of the day though, it doesn't really matter what I think. But it does matter what Miami thinks. And while they are the champs, and the favorites, they also have no interest in playing the Celtics come late spring. They might not admit it, but it's written all over their faces.

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