Ray Allen returned to the starting lineup last night for the first time since losing his spot, but again struggled.
Afterward, I wrote far too many words at SB Nation about Allen’s battle with time, injury and his new role on a team that’s evolving without him. A brief excerpt follows, or read the whole thing. (SB Nation)
Ray Allen sat in the same seat he had used in pregame introductions for most of his five years in Boston, his perfectly smooth bald head lowered, his leg bouncing slightly up and down, likely with anticipation, as he waited for the TD Garden PA announcer to shout his name.
“Raayyy Allllennnn” came the call through the Garden speakers. The most prolific three-point maker in NBA history rose from his seat to chest bump Paul Pierce, and ran through the two lines of teammates which had formed as part of a long-standing pregame tradition shared by almost every basketball team, at any level. After slapping high fives with most of his teammates, Allen hopped on one leg and pretended to shoot a jumper, always his signature in pregame introductions.
This is what he did prior to every home game he played with the Celtics before April 4. This is what he had not done since then, until Monday.
After scoring five points on 2-7 shooting in the Celtics’ 101-85 Game 5 victory, Allen was asked whether his first start in more than a month felt different than any other. He normally responds to even the dumbest questions with a thoroughly-contemplated and articulate answer, but he was uncharacteristically short this time.
“Nope,” he replied.
Maybe he was telling the truth. But never before had he begun a game as an outsider within his own starting five.