Why Jalen Brunson & Joel Embiid will be key in Knicks-76ers series | No Cap Room

Yahoo Sports NBA writer Jake Fischer is joined by Knicks beat writer Fred Katz of The Athletic to break down the first round series. Hear the full conversation on “No Cap Room” - part of the “Ball Don’t Lie” podcast - and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen.

Video Transcript

JAKE FISCHER: One of the more interesting subplots to New York's postseason and their season at large has been this ongoing talk about how to fill the minutes when Jalen Brunson is on the bench. He could be playing all 48 minutes. That being said, when you go through round after round in the postseason, which New York does hope to do-- they're the two seed. 50 wins. They have a very, very, very, tough match-up here. This is not your typical seven seed. And if Joel Embiid does find ways to work his way back through the conditioning stuff, which-- that's going to be something that is going to play a factor in this series for sure.

On the flip side, I think you have to be looking for opportunities to at least spell Brunson if you're trying to get past Philly, and then get past whoever wins Milwaukee-Indiana, and then try to get past Boston. Like, if he's playing 48 minutes of playoff basketball, which we all know is a different level of intensity, there's a much greater level of physicality. It's to me, I think a real little thing.

FRED KATZ: It's going to be really interesting to see these two starting lineups up against each other. When Philly's got the four guys, whether it's De'Anthony Melton or Oubre as that fifth guy, they were plus 22 per a hundred possessions with those four guys on the floor. That's what? Harris, Maxey, Batum, and Embiid. Plus 22 per a hundred possessions with those guys on the court.

And the Knicks' starters, when they're all together, have really crushed teams, too. It's going to be very interesting to see what happens when those two units face off at the starts of first quarter, starts of third quarters, and maybe the close of games. Embiid only played the Knicks one time this year. He missed the other three times those two teams played. I'd say 95% of the Knicks' strategy against Joel Embiid was just make sure he catches the ball away from the paint and then let Isaiah Hartenstein work on him.

If Embiid was out of the paint, the Knicks weren't double teaming. They said, you know what? Isaiah Hartenstein is really good defensively. What that tells you is the Knicks are just like, we feel good when he can just work against one guy. We feel good enough to where we're not going to give everybody else cutting lanes. We're not going to give everybody else standstill 3s. And what Embiid does in those positions when he catches the ball at the nail I think is going to be a massive decider in this series.