Fans let Ray Allen hear it in second return to Boston

Fans let Ray Allen hear it in second return to Boston
March 19, 2013, 12:30 am
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(USA Today Sports Images)

BOSTON -- The reception was different this time around.

The video tribute had long ended, the reminiscent vibe was gone, and the nostalgia had clearly left the TD Garden.

Ray Allen didn't receive special treatment from the Celtics fans in his second return to Boston on Monday since signing with the Miami Heat last summer.

He was vehemently booed when he touched the ball, shot the ball, even when he checked out of the game. Then there was the heckling and name-calling that resonated from the stands. Allen's days as a beloved fan favorite in the Garden are over.

"Nobody pulled punches for me today," Allen said following the Heat's 105-103 comeback win. "I heard some pretty brutal things in there in the building today. People really let me know how they felt."

With his Celtics championship contributions in the past, it is now his new team that is appreciating the intangibles C's fans held with such high regard for five seasons. The Heat revere him as a locker room leader. Younger players look up to his record-setting career, older players look to incorporate parts of his game to enhance their own. For all the boos he received in Boston, he has been receiving as many praises from his team this season.

"The thing you always notice about Ray is his consistency -- 'Every Day Ray,'" Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game. "It's not 'Every Other Day Ray.' It's not 'Every Third Day Ray.' It's 'Every Day Ray.' You can expect it. We had our early bus today and he's never missed it. He's always putting in the time on his craft. I think it's been a great example for the rest of our veteran players as well."

Allen scored just six points on Monday, an example of his new role in his 17th NBA season. As he did toward the end of last season for the Celtics, Allen is coming off the bench for the Heat. His minutes are down from a career average 36.2 to 25.5, and his scoring has also decreased from 19.5 points career to 10.9 this campaign.

After struggling through inconsistencies earlier in the season, Allen entered Monday's game off a 20-point performance, including 4-for-6 3PG, against the Toronto Raptors. He has scored in double-digits in 14 games during the Heat's 23-game winning streak. Spoelstra said finding rhythm doesn't happen overnight.

"Time often times trumps everything," Spoelstra said. "Once you spend more games, more minutes, more weeks, more months in a system, players become more comfortable. Now you take it for granted with a Hall of Famer like Ray, but it's not an easy transition. Going from a championship organization where he had a big starting role to another championship organization where he had to sacrifice 12-plus minutes a game off the bench and have a role that he's never done before.

"So certainly there'd be an adjustment period -- there always is when you change teams anyways. He just made it look a lot easier than it actually is."

Allen left Boston Monday night and headed to Cleveland, where teammate LeBron James will also face his former home crowd on Wednesday against the Cavaliers. If the Heat are paired with the Celtics in a postseason matchup, Allen already has an idea of what he would be greeted with in a playoff game in Boston.

"I'm on the other team," he said. "So they're going to say whatever they can, whatever they need to say."