Alec Burks has stepped up for the Knicks when they need him the most

May 14, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Alec Burks (18) dribbles against Indiana Pacers forward Obi Toppin (1) during the second half during game five of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks guard Alec Burks wasn’t even in the rotation entering this year’s playoffs. He didn’t play a single game in the first round against the 76ers. Now, he has re-entered the rotation amidst a drastic injury situation and has delivered big time.

He was a catalyst to the Knicks’ 121-91 blowout victory over the Indiana Pacers to take Game 5 and put New York within one win of reaching the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1999. Burks had 18 points off the bench and went 5-8 from three-point range to give the Knicks an offensive spark they have desperately needed without OG Anunoby.

Alec Burks has come through for the Knicks at an important time

May 12, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA;  Indiana Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard (2) dribbles the ball while  New York Knicks guard Alec Burks (18) defends during game four of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
May 12, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard (2) dribbles the ball while New York Knicks guard Alec Burks (18) defends during game four of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

In his last three games, Burks has scored in double figures in each of them, and is averaging 17.3 points while shooting 53% from the field and 50% from three-point distance. Finally, the Knicks can feel like the Alec Burks of the old has returned, as he has come through and provided them with essential minutes over the course of this series.

After Game 5 Tuesday, head coach Tom Thibodeau spoke about the resurgence of Burks and how he handled racking up DNPs until now, calling him “the ultimate pro.”

“I’m not surprised. He’s had a terrific career and I think he’s got a lot left in the tank,” said Thibodeau in his postgame press conference (h/t SNY).

Burks becoming a reliable bench option for the Knicks is massive going forward if they envision making a run at the NBA Finals. If or when Anunoby is able to return to the floor, Burks may be able to keep his spot in the rotation off the bench if he continues to play at this level, which will also be huge for a Knicks team that is already missing Julius Randle, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Mitchell Robinson.

“He’s a true professional. He’s someone who’s staying ready,” Josh Hart said after the game (h/t SNY) You see him every day working hard, getting shots up, getting his work in. That’s what pros do.”

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