Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) looks to pass around...

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) looks to pass around Knicks center Mitchell Robinson during the first half of a game on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. Credit: AP/Adam Hunger

The Knicks, Nets and every other team in the Eastern Conference face a tall task — literally so — en route to the NBA Finals this spring.

His name is Joel Embiid and he is 7 feet of trouble for any opponent of the 76ers, as the Knicks saw in Sunday’s 119-112 loss. Embiid scored 35 points, slightly exceeding his league-best average of 33.1.

But there was a positive glimmer in the Knicks’ defeat — their third in a row, all at home, after an eight-game winning streak.

It was the way fellow 7-footer Mitchell Robinson battled Embiid all afternoon and got the better of him until Robinson got into foul trouble and Embiid surged late. No other Knick could deal with Embiid. Jericho Sims played only 12 minutes and committed four personal fouls.

Through three quarters, the Knicks were plus-11 in scoring when Robinson was on the court and the 76ers minus-11 with Embiid. In the first quarter alone, Embiid was minus-14.

The Knicks led 50-40 when Robinson departed after being called for his third personal foul with 4:04 left in the first half. The 76ers trailed by only three, 63-60, at halftime.

Robinson was able to match Embiid in both strength and agility for most of the first half. He finished with 16 rebounds and 10 points and was plus-12 for the game, the best of any Knick.

Asked afterward about his defense, Robinson noted that he is from New Orleans, which is known for its backcourt players.

“That’s all we’ve got down there is guards,” he said. “So I’ve got to [play defense] if I want to play five-on-five with my friends.”

Coach Tom Thibodeau praised Robinson’s work against the Philadelphia star.

“I thought he played really well,” he said. “Embiid is so skilled. It’s power, strength, it’s obviously post-up, but also his ability to put it on the floor. And his ability to shoot. So you’ve got to play both shot and drive when you close out to him.

“There were two or three plays where Mitch ripped — really good plays — and then Embiid recovered the ball and laid it back in. But overall, I thought Mitch played a terrific game.”

Robinson called Embiid “an elite player,” one against whom he has to use his speed to be effective.

Robinson, who signed a four-year, $60 million contract before this season, sought to add strength two summers ago and said he now is in maintenance mode.

He said he weighs about 270 pounds. Embiid is listed at 280.

Before Sunday’s game, Thibodeau said of Robinson’s defensive evolution, “I think it’s his overall experience. Now he’s been through the league a few times. He understands the guys he’s going against, he understands the teams, the schemes. [He provides] elite rim protection.

“I think he’s gotten a lot better offensively, but he’s the anchor of the defense.”

The Knicks next will see the 76ers on Feb. 5, so there is much to worry about before then, starting with a three-game trip to Texas that begins on Tuesday night in Dallas.

The last time the Knicks faced the Mavericks, they built a 15-point second-quarter lead but were outscored 41-15 in the third quarter and fell behind by 32 points in a 121-100 loss  on Dec. 3 at Madison Square Garden.

Luka Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr. totaled 36 points and 14-for-18 shooting for Dallas in the third quarter, including 8-for-11 from three-point range.  The Mavericks turned a 38-23 deficit into a 116-84 lead, outscoring the Knicks 93-46 in the span of just under 28 minutes. Dallas shot 24-for-61 from outside the arc, the most three-point attempts ever allowed by the Knicks.

That was  a low point this season, but the Knicks immediately followed that with the eight-game winning streak.

Brunson is questionable

The Knicks have listed star point guard Jalen Brunson as questionable for Tuesday night’s game against his old team, citing a “sore hip.” Brunson left Sunday’s loss in the fourth quarter after seeming to hurt himself driving awkwardly into the lane, where he encountered Embiid. Brunson grabbed his right hip shortly thereafter and several more times before he left the game with 4:42 remaining and went to the locker room to be examined.

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