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#pounditSunday, February 25, 2024

Celtics shake up their starting lineup for elimination game against 76ers

Joe Mazzulla on the sideline

Dec 16, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla watches from the sideline as they take on the Orlando Magic at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics are putting all their cards on the table as they face the prospects of elimination on Thursday.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports that the Celtics are planning to move big man Robert Williams III into the starting lineup for Game 6 against the Philadelphia 76ers. Williams will be replacing guard Derrick White to join teammates Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Al Horford in the starting five.

Williams is a big, athletic body who protects the rim and gives the Celtics another defensive option against Joel Embiid. His pairing in the frontcourt with Horford was key to Boston’s NBA Finals run last season. But Williams has largely come off the bench this season as he continues to work his way back from knee and hamstring injuries.

White, a shooter and ball-handler who was just named Second Team All-Defense, had started all 11 games for Boston so far this postseason. But he gives up some height at 6-foot-4, meaning Williams might be the better situational play against the 76ers’ burly starting unit (especially since Horford can also space the floor effectively on offense).

The Celtics have to win to keep their season alive as they are currently down 3-2 to the 76ers. They have tripped over their own feet at times this series but will now be hoping that this starting lineup change gives them the thunderbolt they need to force a Game 7 in Boston.

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