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The New York Knicks will be without big man Mitchell Robinson for at least three weeks, the team announced Thursday. Robinson underwent surgery to repair a fractured thumb and will be re-evaluated after that initial timeline to see how his recovery is progressing. 

Robinson suffered the injury on Jan. 18 during the Knicks' loss to the Washington Wizards. Just a few minutes into the game, he reached into traffic to help defend against a Bradley Beal drive, and after the ball was knocked out of bounds he immediately grabbed at his hand and tried to shake it out. 

He remained in the game for a brief period, but was bothered by the injury during that time and eventually checked out for good in the middle of the first quarter. The team initially diagnosed the issue as a thumb sprain, but further evaluation revealed a fracture that needed to be surgically repaired. 

This is a big loss for the Knicks, who rely heavily on Robinson's interior presence. His size and athleticism make him a strong rim protector on the defensive end, a lob threat on the offensive end and a strong all-around rebounder. For the season hew as averaging 7.2 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks -- good for fifth in the league. In 1,022 minutes with Robinson on the floor this season, the Knicks have a plus-8.2 net rating; in 1,216 minutes without him, that mark plummets to minus-1.1. 

The Knicks have been hot and cold this season, and appear to be trending down again. They have lost two games in a row, and will now enter one of the toughest parts of their schedule without their best big man. While Robinson is out, they'll face six of the seven other top-eight teams in the East at least once, with multiple matchups against the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers. That could spell bad news for their hopes of getting back to the playoffs.