The Knicks try to avoid the Joel Embiid trap

A literally daunting task awaits Isaiah Hartenstein and the New York Knicks.

If these are truly Hartenstein‘s final hours in Manhattan…the soon-to-be free agent has potentially performed out of the Knicks’ price range…there’s a chance to go out on a high note: firmly established as the The team’s starting center, Hartenstein will likely be tasked with checking Joel Embiid when the Knicks open their first-round playoff series with the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night (6 p.m. ET, MSG/ESPN).

Hartenstein discussed the plan to neutralize Embiid as the hours wound down before tip-off, citing an obvious solution that was easier to propose than execute.

“The key is to make him uncomfortable,” Hartenstein said in a video from SNY. “I think, at the end of the day, we do a good job of showing the shell, so a lot of guys are charging up.”

Although the reigning NBA MVP has made a name for himself with his fearsome physique (7-0, 280 pounds), Hartenstein noted that his real danger lurks at the free throw line.

“The main thing is that he will look for fouls,” he said. “He’s the MVP, so he’s going to get some calls that maybe won’t go your way. He does your job, he plays defense for the team, and he doesn’t really stick his hands in. That’s smart of him, why not use it? I’m not saying whether it’s bad. He’s smart enough to do it, and we continue to do it, it’s up to us.”