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BOSTON (CBS) – Boston Cetlics guard Ray Allen made his long-awaited return Friday night, and did anything but ease his way back into the lineup.
Allen logged 36 minutes in Boston’s 90-84 Game 3 win over the Atlanta Hawks Friday night, scoring 13 points on 6-for-12 shooting.
The good news is, Allen felt great.
“Being back on the floor, I felt alive. I felt like I was back in my own skin and it was a great feeling,” Allen said after the game.
It had been 25 days since Allen played in a game, missing the Celtics last 11 contests with an ailing ankle that will require surgery in the offseason.
But with Avery Bradley leaving in the second half with a dislocated shoulder, Allen was desperately needed for all 36 of those minutes. Doc Rivers said before the game Ray would have no restrictions, and he really wasn’t kidding.
“I’m getting everything I can get out of him each game,” Rivers said. “I’m saying that jokingly, but it’s somewhat true as well. Tonight, honestly, we needed him. It’s amazing the difference when he’s on the floor with our spacing, and how much more difficult it is for guys to help [on defense].”
Of course, his teammates were happy to have him back as well.
“Just having him out there really picked us up because we haven’t seen Ray in a jersey in so long,” captain Paul Pierce said after his 21-point performance. “Just having him out there, you heard the reaction from the crowd when he checked into the game. Stuff like that brings so much energy to the ballclub.”
Allen participated in Boston’s 75-minute practice on Thursday and their morning shootaround on Friday. He had been a Game-Time decision for Game 2, but was a late scratch when the ankle wasn’t good to go just before tip.
There were no such problems Friday night.
“In just the last two days, its been like night and day for me,” Allen said. “Being able to get on the floor and move around and shoot, being able to get into my routine. I’ve been so off routine for the past two months … you are almost from the outside looking in, trying to be a part of the team and trying not to be in the way.”
But, as expected, the ankle was a little moody after the game.
“Now it’s achy,” the 36-year-old said Allen said. “It feels like it’s just mad at me a little bit. So, I’ve been here before. It seems like I have all these safeguards in place. When I get home, I know exactly what I need to do. I have my contraptions to make sure I’m able to go to sleep well and get up in the morning and get my treatment. So, I’m in a good place.”
Allen and the rest of the Celtics will get a day off on Saturday. Game 4 is Sunday night at the Garden.