BOSTON No one knew what to expect when Ray Allen entered the floor at the 4:40 mark of the first quarter.
Allen, as he has done so many times, wasted little time getting down to what he does best - making shots.
And his shot-making could not have come at a better time, as the Celtics squeak out a 90-84 overtime win against an under-manned Atlanta Hawks team.
Boston now leads the best-of-seven series 2-1 with Game 4 in Boston on Sunday.
Not surprisingly, Allen's teammates were happy to see him on the bench in something other than a nicely tailored suit.
"Just having him out there really picked us up," said Boston's Paul Pierce. "Because we haven't seen Ray in a jersey in so long. 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 ball club, to have a guy that's so vital come out there and give us a big lift. It's huge having him out there tonight, especially with Avery (Bradley) going down."
Bradley, who starts in place of Allen now, suffered a left shoulder injury in the third quarter and was unable to return. Bradley told CSNNE.com after the game that the shoulder was still sore, but he was optimistic that he would be able to play in Game 4 on Sunday.
Allen is in a similar position as far as being questionable for Sunday's Game 4 matchup.
On Friday, Allen showed no signs of rust early on when he knocked down his first shot attempt of the night. He went on to score 13 points on 6-for-12 shooting from the field.
The 13 points from Allen isn't all that surprising.
However, he did it in 37 minutes - yes, 37 minutes which seemed an awful lot of court time for a guy who had not played in nearly a month.
"Someone asked me (before the game), 'Would there be a minute restriction?' I said, 'No, because we don't know when he'll play again or not.' So I'm getting everything I can get out of him each game," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "I'm saying that jokingly, but somewhat true as well."
Said Allen: "From day-to-day I don't know somedays. And trying to give you guys answers is sometimes hard to really explain or give answers. Tomorrow's a new day, but again, I'm not going into it looking like or feeling like a victim; I'm coming out of the sand thinking it's going to be good tomorrow and it's going to be even better Sunday."