Knicks ‘not surprised’ Alec Burks has stepped up when they’ve needed it most

Alec Burks’ second stint with the Knicks didn’t quite start as planned.

The veteran guard got off to an extremely slow start after being picked up alongside Bojan Bogdanovic in a trade deadline deal with the Pistons and he quickly found himself outside of the rotation.

Burks was acquired to bring some veteran scoring off the bench, but he produced just 6.5 points while shooting 31 percent from the field and 30 percent from behind the arc during the regular season.

He remained sidelined for each game of New York’s opening round series against the 76ers, but with the squad battling even more injuries, they’ve been forced to turn to him during the second round.

Burks has seen his minutes increase off the bench since OG Anunoby went down with a hamstring injury late in Game 2 at MSG, and thus far he’s been taking full advantage of the opportunity.

“He’s the ultimate pro,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s had a terrific career. He’s a combo guard, he can shoot, he can put it on the floor, he’s got experience, and he can think on his feet. So I’m not surprised and I think he’s got a lot left in the tank.”

While both games in Indiana resulted in losses, Burks played well in each of them, cracking the double-digit mark in points while shooting a combined 56 percent from the field and knocking down four threes.

He followed that up with an even better performance in New York’s massive Game 5 win back home on Tuesday night, producing 18 points and knocking down five threes across 23 huge minutes of action.

That’s the player the Knicks thought they were acquiring.

“He’s a true professional,” Josh Hart said. “He’s been staying ready. You see him every day working hard getting his shots up and getting his work in, and that’s what pros do. Whether or not they're in the rotation, they continue to get better and stay ready.

“When his number was called, he came out and provided for us when we desperately needed it, so he’s a true pro, and he’s someone that we’re going to continue to rely on for some big minutes moving forward.”

New York will certainly need Burks and the rest of its depth to step up alongside Jalen Brunson again if the team hopes to close out the series in Game 6 on Friday night.