BOSTON -- Ray Allen woke up around 7am on Sunday morning. Four hours later, he was back on the same court he had warmed up on for the previous five seasons.
He pulled up for jump shots, three-pointers, and free throws with unwavering concentration as fans who had began entering the arena yelled his name from the stands.
It was just like any other pregame warmup at the TD Garden, only this time, he was wearing a Miami Heat t-shirt.
"It was very weird," Allen said after the Celtics beat the Heat, 100-98, in double overtime. "Going to the other locker room, its been a long time since Ive been on that side of the hallway. The whole years been an adjustment being in Miami after being in Boston for so long, so it was definitely a weird feeling for me.
Allen made his first return to Boston on Sunday after signing with the Heat during free agency last summer. He turned down more money from the Celtics and opted to join their Eastern Conference rivals, making him Enemy Number One to many Celtics fans.
Entering the game, the buzz around Boston was how he would be received by the Garden crowd. Fans cheered for him when the Celtics played a tribute video on the JumboTron and then shifted their reactions to boos whenever Allen got the ball.
"All those emotions came streaming back from all the great things we did here, and that's why I say I'll always remember the big games we played in and won," Allen said, adding, "I didnt know what to expect. The one thing I was going to do is come into it and just focus on being prepared and getting the guys ready that were playing, that were starting the game. I didnt expect to get booed the whole time, throughout the game, that I touched the ball. That was interesting."
Allen played 38 minutes off the bench, scoring 21 points (7-17 FG, 2-8 3PG, 5-7 FT) and grabbing five rebounds. He tried to treat this game just like any other matchup while on the floor, putting aside of the buildup of his return.
"He probably played too many extended minutes at the end, like everybody had to, but mentally he came in right," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. " He was ready. I dont think he was too high or too low."
Unlike Opening Night in Miami when Kevin Garnett's apparent snub of Allen's attempt to say hello dominated basketball chatter, Allen's interactions with his former teammates were drama-free on the court. He instead looked back on the positive memories he made on the Celtics, reflecting on the championship season and title runs, and reaffirming what the city meant to him in spite of where he now calls home.
Said Allen, "I always know I'll always be a Celtic in my mind, regardless of what anyone else says."