At one point, the Philadelphia 76ers were in contention for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference standings. But they lost Joel Embiid for a long stretch due to injury. The 76ers slipped in the standings and are now preparing for their first-round series of the NBA Playoffs against the New York Knicks. While the 76ers have a potential X-factor in Nicolas Batum their true X-factor this series could be the veteran Kyle Lowry

The 76ers are coming into the NBA Playoffs against the Knicks with reason for optimism. Embiid has returned the lineup and they finished the regular season on a nine-game win streak. When healthy they were as good as anyone in the East aside from maybe the Boston Celtics. Last year, they beat the Brooklyn Nets in a 4-0 sweep in the first round to advance the East Semifinals against the Celtics. They managed to push the Celtics to seven games before losing.

Tyrese Maxey took that next leap and has become a full-fledged star player and a perfect complement to Embiid. They have a nice collection of role players around them. Despite finishing as the No. 7 seed, it’s not a stretch to think that this team could make a strong push in the playoffs now that Embiid is back in the lineup.

But where the Knicks present a challenge for the 76ers in the NBA Playoffs is in the backcourt with rising star Jalen Brunson. Luckily for the 76ers, they have Lowry as the potential X-factor who can perhaps act as a deterrent against Brunson.

Kyle Lowry is the veteran presence the 76ers need in the NBA Playoffs

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) dribbles the ball past Philadelphia 76ers guard Kyle Lowry (7) during the second quarter of a play-in game of the 2024 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout his NBA career, Kyle Lowry has been a winner and a positive player wherever he’s gone. He was the heart and soul of the 2019 Toronto Raptors championship team. He does a lot of the dirty work and brings a unique style of toughness to the court. He’s never shy about taking a charge on defense.

Kyle Lowry joined the 76ers as a free agent following a buyout from the Charlotte Hornets. He began the season with the Miami Heat but was traded at the NBA Trade Deadline and never suited up for the Hornets. His impact on the 76ers has already been felt during postseason play.

Against the Heat in the play-in game, Lowry finished with seven points and five rebounds and played his trademark style tough defense. A lot of what he does, knowing how to contest shots and knowing where to be defensively, don’t show up in the box score.

Since joining the 76ers, Lowry has started in 20 out of 23 games at a little over 28 minutes per game. He’s averaged 8.0 points per game, 2.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists with splits of 44.4 percent shooting from the field, 40.4 percent shooting from the three-point line and 84.8 percent shooting from the free throw line.

Lowry’s essentially been a starter all season even back to when he was a member of the Heat. His toughness and his intensity are what the 76ers are going to need at the point guard position if they want to slow Jalen Brunson down at all.

That’s going to be no easy task. Brunson was phenomenal in the playoffs last season. He’s carried that momentum over into this season and is looking to continue that in the playoffs. He was a first-time All-Star and has been carrying the Knicks. But if there’s anyone who can get under his skin on the 76ers roster, it’s Lowry.