2 Knicks advantages and 2 disadvantages in first-round playoff series against Sixers

The Knicks and Sixers will go up against each other in the playoffs for the first time since 1989.
New York Knicks, Donte DiVincenzo, Philadelphia Sixers
New York Knicks, Donte DiVincenzo, Philadelphia Sixers / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages
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Disadvantage: Guarding Joel Embiid

Guarding Embiid will be the Knicks' top challenge. Luckily, New York has Isaiah Hartenstein and Mitchell Robinson to help. The even better news is that after dealing with a minutes restriction because of Achilles tendinopathy, Hartenstein said he's good to play 30+ minutes in the playoffs.

Embiid can do it all on the offensive end, which is why he's the reigning MVP. However, in the win over the Heat, Embiid didn't look like an MVP-caliber player. He moved slower and wasn't his typical self (subscription required). Who knows if he'll be able to play in every game in the series? Even then, New York has to prepare as if he will.

Where Embiid can really hurt the Knicks is at the free-throw line. All it will take is one little slip-up from Hartenstein or Robinson, and Embiid will make them pay. He knows how to draw contact. Some even call him a foul hunter. Embiid averages 11.6 free throws per game and makes 88.3% of them.

Hartenstein did well against Embiid in New York's 128-92 win against Philadelphia on Jan. 5. The star center finished with 30 points, but when Hartenstein was guarding him, Embiid shot 9-of-21 and committed five turnovers. The Knicks will win the series if Hartenstein can hold Embiid to numbers like that.

It helps that New York has defensive mastermind Tom Thibodeau. Knowing Thibs, the Knicks' defense will keep Embiid on his toes with a mix of coverages.