The N.B.A. said it had ‘no plans to pause the season’ as virus cases increase.
The N.B.A. postponed a game on Sunday between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics when the Heat did not have enough available players because of the league’s coronavirus health and safety protocols. It was the second game of the season postponed after the protocols left a team short-handed.
“Because of ongoing contact tracing with the Heat, the team does not have the league-required eight available players to proceed with tonight’s game against the Celtics,” the league said in a statement.
The Celtics were also missing a significant portion of their roster on Sunday, including their stars. Less than a month in, the season is trending in the wrong direction, with a growing number of players missing games after testing positive for, or potentially being exposed to, the virus.
“We anticipated that there would be game postponements this season and planned this season accordingly,” Mike Bass, a league spokesman, told The New York Times. “There are no plans to pause the season. We will continue to be guided by our medical experts and our health and safety protocols.”
Along with the Celtics and the Heat, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Dallas Mavericks and the Chicago Bulls listed at least three players on their injury reports over the weekend in connection with the league’s virus protocols. Multiple other teams also had at least one player listed, a marked contrast from the N.B.A.’s conclusion to the 2019-20 season at the Walt Disney World campus in Florida over the summer. No games were postponed then, and no players were said to have tested positive.
The league’s injury reports do not say whether a player is out because he has tested positive or was just potentially exposed. A player who tests positive could be isolated for at least 10 days, and one who is exposed could be in quarantine for several days. Each week, the N.B.A. announces how many new players have tested positive. In its most recent report on Wednesday, four players had tested positive, up from zero the week before and two in the first week of play.
“We’re all dealing with a vast set of circumstances, so we’ve got to remain calm, and we’ve always got to have a plan for adversity,” Coach Rick Carlisle said before the Mavericks’ game against the Orlando Magic on Saturday, when Dallas was missing three players because of virus protocols. “We’ve been expecting that this sort of thing was certainly a realistic possibility, and now we’re dealing with it.”