- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Doc Rivers and Ray Allen during the season-opener in Miami.With the Boston Celtics mired in a season-worst six-game losing streak, Ray Allen's return to TD Garden on Sunday afternoon is pretty much the least of the team's troubles. But it's going to be a storyline, so here are a few questions to ponder before Sunday's matinee (1 p.m., ABC):
(1) How will fans react to Allen? There seems to be a genuine split here about how people think the crowd will react when Allen checks into the game for the first time. Some believe there's still lingering resentment after he bolted from the Celtics this summer and signed with the rival Heat, which will lead to Allen being booed unmercifully. Others think that, while Boston fans can be gruff, sentimentality typically wins out, and he'll be serenaded with a loud ovation when he steps on the floor. The guess: A smattering of initial boos quickly gets drowned out by an ovation. It's time to bury the hatchet and move on. As Celtics coach Doc Rivers implores his team, you have to get past mad.
(2) Will the Celtics do a JumboTron tribute? Just about every key member of that 2007-08 championship team got a tribute video at the first timeout during their first trip back to the Garden (even Glen Davis got a minute). This is one of the rare times where the divorce was somewhat contentious (the Celtics traded away the likes of Davis, Eddie House and Kendrick Perkins). The guess: There has to be a video. And it might just line up that the video rolls just before Allen checks in, so that will almost certainly lead to an ovation after a tear-jerking, slow-motion-filled trip down Memory Lane.
(3) Will KG embrace Allen? We all know what happened the first time around as Garnett didn't even flinch when Allen attempted to dap him up on the Boston bench when he first checked in (this after Garnett said he "lost" Allen's phone number this offseason). Given that Garnett even fist-bumped Carmelo Anthony on Thursday, will he offer the same sort of friendly greeting that the likes of Marquis Daniels received earlier this season? The guess: Again, it's time to move on. Boston has problems far bigger than Allen at the moment. It's time to kill Allen with kindness. If the Celtics want revenge, they can get it on the floor.
Your turn: How will Allen's return to Boston play out? Sound off in the comments.
7dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann