Don Collins will get his first start of the season tonight when the struggling Bullets run into the improving New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden (7:30, WDCA-TV-20).

Coach Gene Shue has been shuffling his lineup throughout the first month of the season in an effort to bolster his scoring attack, but this latest change is strictly out of necessity.

Kevin Grevey is injured and, if that sounds familiar, it should. The six-year veteran from Kentucky has been suffering through a series of setbacks ever since he re-signed with the Bullets in October.

The first day he practiced, Grevey dislocated a finger on his shooting hand. Then he pulled a muscle high in his thigh and was on crutches for three days. Almost as soon as he got back in the lineup, the 6-foot-5 guard fell hard and bruised his elbow. Finally, in the first quarter of Tuesday night's 110-99 loss to San Antonio, he pulled a groin muscle and probably will be sidelined for the rest of the week.

Collins has been effective coming off the bench and scoring, averaging 9.6 points in just 20 minutes a game, but his defensive shortcomings have prevented Shue from using him on a regular basis. After taking over for Grevey, Collins fouled out in 18 minutes trying to contain George Gervin, who wound up with 42 points.

The Bullets, last in the NBA in offense, now have lost seven of their last eight games. Meanwhile, the Knicks, after a slow start, have won three in a row. This is the first meeting of the season between the teams.