The Knicks look for a win in Washington after all star weekend that was reflective of their season so far—up and down with bright spots. 

The New York Knicks (33-27) are back tonight after a so-so showing during All-Star weekend—bookended by Quentin Grimes’ incredible performance in the Rising Stars game and Julius Randle’s solid All-Star game minutes. They will play the Washington Wizards (28-30), who needed a huge performance from Kyle Kuzma to beat the Knicks at the garden last time out.

This game has playoff seeding stakes, with New York looking to improve on their current six seed and Washington clinging to the play-in. Here are a few keys to the game for the Knicks ahead of their game tonight in the nation’s capital:

Mitchell Robinson back?

The Knicks’ starting center has been out for the last month due to a hand injury but went through a full practice this week, according to Ian Begley. As of publication, no decision has been made. If Robinson is healthy and ready to go, though, opposing teams are sure to be a bit nervous about the trajectory of this suddenly meshing Knicks squad.

In Robinson’s absence, Isaiah Hartenstein and Jericho Sims have both provided huge minutes for New York’s defense. This is especially the case for Hartenstein, who seems to have finally found a passing game companion on the bench in Josh Hart. So, even if Robinson shows some rust in his first games back, his backups are sure to bridge that gap until he is back in the zone.

Robinson, prior to his injury, was a positive impact on both ends of the floor, giving the team a +10.5 point differential during his minutes protecting paint. He was also second in the league in offensive rebounding before he went down.

Can Hart keep this up?

Hart has been shooting freely from deep since his arrival—averaging 4.7 threes per game over his three games with New York and hitting 64.3%. His ability to spread the floor with the bench unit has been tremendous. He has provided an option for scoring outside of Quickley. If Hart can manage to maintain his hot streak, though he’s sure to cool off from downtown, he has a chance to help solidify the Knicks’ current playoff positioning.

Knicks defense needs to stay hot

Aside from the boost on offense that both Hart and Robinson provide, New York has to keep ready on the defensive end of the floor. They are currently ranked 15th in the league in defensive rating at 113.6, even without Robinson for stretches. With the inclusion of Hart in the rotation, who is a great defender around the perimeter, and the return of Robinson, there is nowhere to go but up for the Knicks on defense.

They should have a good test tonight against Washington, which has hot shooters in Kuzma, Kristaps Porzingis and Bradley Beal victory almost certainly rests on holding those three to low-scoring efforts.

Injury report

Robinson is still listed as questionable for tonight’s game as of 1pm, though he’s got a good chance to play, according to the New York Post. Evan Fournier is out due to a non-Covid related illness. For the Wizards, Beal is questionable with a knee injury.

Tip-off is 7:30pm EST.

»Read: What Is Going ON With RJ Barrett

»Read: Leon Rose Has The Knicks Set Up Now And For The Future

»Read: The Carmelo Anthony Trade Impacted A Generation of Knicks Fans