Will Mitchell Robinson's Game 1 force Tom Thibodeau to make Knicks lineup change?

Mitch came up HUGE!
New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson
New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson / Elsa/GettyImages

The New York Knicks' toughest challenge in their first-round playoff series against the Sixers is guarding Joel Embiid. The reigning MVP didn't look like his usual self in Philadelphia's Play-In win over Miami, but that wasn't the case in the first half of Saturday's game. He was getting his way on both ends of the court.

Embiid's dominant play was halted by what appeared to be a serious injury after he landed awkwardly on the left knee he had surgery on in early February. At the start of the second half, he was back on the floor but played cautiously.

It didn't help that Mitchell Robinson gave Embiid a fit. Like Embiid, Robinson underwent surgery in December, but on his ankle. Before then, Mitch was a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. He proved that he's still that player in New York's 111-104 win for how he defended Embiid, particularly in the fourth quarter.

Mitchell Robinson contains Joel Embiid in Knicks' Game 1 playoff win

In the 18 minutes Isaiah Hartenstein played against the Sixers, he finished with six points, seven rebounds, and two blocks. Robinson played 30 minutes and finished with eight points, 12 rebounds, four blocks, one steal, and one assist. Thibodeau rightfully opted to play Mitch down the stretch.

In Game 2, Thibodeau must consider matching Robinson's minutes with Embiid, meaning Hartenstein would come off the bench. Given how Mitch defended Embiid, it's certainly worth a thought.

Of course, it will depend on Embiid's status. He didn't speak to the media after the loss. There were already questions about whether he'd be able to play the entire series, and that was before he left Saturday's game in the second quarter. Embiid was already uncomfortable, and Robinson made his life that much harder.

New York hasn't had much injury luck this season, but at least the team got Mitch back. He was vital in the Knicks' first-round playoff series over the Cavaliers last season, and he's already come up big this year. Robinson worked hard to rehab from ankle surgery to give his team an added boost in the playoffs. He's embodied the New York mentality, which every fan can respect.