Kevin Huerter, a local of the Albany space, made his NBA debut on the Garden in 2018 and now the 3-point capturing swingman will play his first playoff recreation in the identical spot Sunday as a key member of the Hawks.
“Kind of ironic the way it’s all come collectively,’’ Huerter advised The Post in a cellphone interview. “It’s straightforward for my family and friends to go to the sport.’’
It’s a decent neighborhood in his native Clifton Park – between Albany and Saratoga. Shenendehowa is the powerhouse highschool within the area but in addition Knicks nation.
“I feel the individuals near me are rooting for me and the Hawks,’’ Huerter mentioned. “Other individuals within the space are rooting for the Knicks. There’s a dilemma.’’
Despite a 0-3 document in opposition to the Knicks this season, the 6-foot-7, 22-year-old senses his membership may spoil the Big Apple celebration.
“One hundred p.c, we have now all the boldness on the planet,’’ Huerter mentioned. “We don’t actually have a look at these three video games as being a lot of an element going into the sequence. We really feel actually good about ourselves. They beat us thrice this yr however all three video games we might have received. We just like the matchup and are prepared for the problem.’’
Knicks proprietor James Dolan has upped the attendance max to 15,000 fans.
“It’s going to be wild,’’ Huerter added. “It’s one thing we’re anticipating. MSG undoubtedly has a status of being a tricky place to play once you get all of the followers in there.’’
On the identical night time the Knicks took Kevin Knox at No. 9, 250 family and friends gathered at a rustic membership in Rexford June 21, 2018. Ten picks later, the Hawks drafted Huerter at 19. The place erupted.
Huerter, who by no means labored out for the Knicks, had spent two years at Maryland and figured he was headed again for a 3rd season. He shined on the NBA Draft Combine within the 5-on-5 scrimmages.
“It was a whole dream come true,’’ Huerter mentioned. “I put my toes in to see the place my draft inventory was, nonetheless considering of going again to school. But my recreation took off and I had actually good exercises. To hear my identify referred to as with household and pals, it was all the pieces I ever needed.’’
Huerter has solidified his spot within the Hawks rotation on this third season, even after they made bawdy offseason signings of wings Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari.
Huerter averaged 11.9 factors, 3.3 assists and shot 36.3 p.c from 3-point vary. He began 49 video games however an NBA supply mentioned Huerter is predicted to return off the bench on this sequence for D’Andre Hunter with the concept of Hunter as an choice to defend Randle.
“I’m all the time confident in myself and what I deliver to the desk,’’ Huerter mentioned. “Even although they made loads of strikes, I used to be confident I’d discover a method on the court docket.’’
Defense is a chief cause. He’s not only a 3-point marksman.
“Right away they like to speak about my 3-point capturing for causes I don’t know,’’ Huerter mentioned. “I’m identified for capturing being my power however defensively my vitality has helped us in video games. And to win huge playoffs video games, you bought to defend.’’
That’s the Knicks’ cup of tea. While Atlanta was predicted as a playoff workforce, the Knicks had been dismissed.
“They play arduous,’’ Huerter mentioned. “They’re well-coached they usually have an All-Star in Julius Randle. You put all that collectively they usually had an incredible season.’’
Huerter will enter the ultimate yr of his rookie contract in 2021-22 earlier than changing into a restricted free agent. As a teen, Huerter didn’t root for the Knicks as a lot as particular person gamers — Chauncey Billups, Allen Iverson, Dwyane Wade,
“I’m never satisfied and still excited [about] what the future can hold,’’ said Huerter, whose father Tom played at Siena and was the team’s longtime broadcaster. “I’ve gotten playing time and an opportunity to be part of a team that’s building and had success this season. That makes me more excited for the future.”
Danilo Gallinari isn’t the one former Knick on Atlanta. Hawks high professional scout, Stephen Giles, was a part of the final Knicks’ playoff workforce in 2013 as their advance scout for Mike Woodson’s workers.