The NBA is continuing its season as planned even after concerns about COVID-19 exposure forced the postponement of Miami’s game at Boston on Sunday, a day where no fewer than 15 players around the league were officially declared unable to play for virus-related reasons.
The Celtics had seven of those players and Miami had another. But after Heat guard Avery Bradley was ruled out for Sunday — his test result was not announced, just his status — the rest of the Miami players needed their contact-tracing data analyzed to determine if they had been potentially exposed.
That process would not have been completed in time for the 7 p.m. game, so the league called it off. Boston was preparing to play the game with eight available players; the Celtics have 17 on their roster, seven were out due to the COVID-19 protocols and two more with injuries.
Meanwhile, the Heat simply were not cleared to play anyone.
The Celtics were to have been without Jaylen Brown, Javonte Green, Semi Ojeleye, Jayson Tatum, Tristan Thompson, Grant Williams and Robert Williams on Sunday. That’s the most any team has ruled out for a game because of virus-related issues so far this season but does not necessarily mean any of the affected Celtics tested positive.
“We anticipated that there would be game postponements this season and planned the schedule accordingly,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. “There are no plans to pause the season, and we will continue to be guided by our medical experts and health and safety protocols.”
The NBA had 148 games on the schedule so far through Sunday; the Boston-Miami game was only the second to be postponed for virus-related reasons. The other was Dec. 23, an Oklahoma City at Houston game where the Rockets did not have the required eight players available.
“You are starting to see what is going on in our country directly affect the NBA because we are no longer in that safety net of the bubble,” said Denver coach Michael Malone, whose club has been without Michael Porter Jr. for its last six games — and counting — because of the league’s protocols.
ble, and he’s been proven correct.
Bradley — who signed with the Heat during the offseason — opted not to join the Los Angeles Lakers, his former team, in the bubble last year because he has a child with breathing problems and did not want to take any unnecessary risks. He chose to play this season, calling living in a COVID-affected world “the new normal.”
“The numbers are spiking,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Saturday. “That is the reality. We are committed to proceeding with our industry and we’re doing it with all the best science and adherence to the protocols, but ultimately we’re not in control.”