Ray Allen returns to Celtics

BOSTON -- Boston Celtics shooting guard Ray Allen returned to action Friday night in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Atlanta Hawks after missing the team's last 11 games because of right ankle soreness.

Allen received a standing ovation when he checked into the game with 4:40 left in the first quarter, and he quickly hit his first shot, a baseline jumper. He left in the second quarter and came in about 90 seconds later, finishing the half with eight points on 4 for 6 shooting in 16 minutes.

Coach Doc Rivers said Allen responded well to heightened activity in going through the team's 75-minute practice Thursday, but admitted that, while there will be no specific restrictions Friday, expectations are tempered considering this will be Allen's first real full-court action since the injury sidelined him nearly a month ago.

"Obviously, he hasn't played, he hasn't gone up and down since he's been injured," Rivers said. "We did only half court yesterday, so tonight will be his first time playing full court in about three weeks ... He looked OK (in practice). He looked a little rusty, which he should be. But he was aggressive and that was good to see."

One thing River stressed is that the injury could sideline Allen again moving forward and not to expect that his return ensures his availability for the rest of the playoffs.

"I think he just came to the conclusion that the pain's not going to go away," Rivers said. "He has to find a way to play with it. He has to find a way to be effective with it. I think he also probably accepts there may be a day or two that he can't play. And I think what everyone is trying to do is eliminate it, so when he's back to back. I don't think we are thinking in those terms anymore. We're just going to go game in and game out and see how he does."

For the Hawks, forward Josh Smith is out due to a strained tendon in his left knee. Marvin Williams will start in his place.

Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.