NBA Struggling With COVID-19

The Cleveland Browns had to play a playoff game in Pittsburgh on Sunday night without head coach Kevin Stefanski because he tested positive for COVID-19. But by and large, the decision to play the NFL season without a bubble has been successful. No games have been canceled, and just seven games now remain. Can’t wait to see what the Super Bowl odds will be!

But basketball has fewer players and, thus, a smaller margin for error. The bubble-free season has already become an issue for the league and for online betting.

On Saturday night, the Philadelphia 76ers were forced to play with a league-minimum eight players, and then on Sunday, the Heat and Celtics game was postponed.

Denver Nuggets at Philadelphia 76ers

With injuries and COVID-19 protocols, the Sixers were forced to host the Nuggets on Saturday with just eight active players, and one of them was too hurt to play. Denver played all 15 of its players in the game, making it a contest of 15-on-7 that was over by the end of the third quarter.

The Nuggets led by 21 to begin the fourth quarter and were able to rest all of their starters.

The undermanned Sixers were forced to vastly increase their minutes played. Rookie Isaiah Joe played nearly 45 minutes after only logging a combined 27 minutes in the previous four games.

Dakota Mathias played 41 minutes after averaging less than eight minutes in his previous four games. And rookie Tyrese Maxey jumped from 21 minutes to 44 minutes but responded nicely with 39 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.

Miami Heat at Boston Celtics

A big game in the Eastern Conference was postponed on Sunday when the Heat fell below the eight-player threshold. After guard Avery Bradley had an inconclusive test that placed him into the league’s health and safety protocol, Miami dropped below eight available players.

Miami was the reason for Sunday’s postponement, but the Celtics were also right on the edge. Kemba Walker and Romeo Langford are injured, and the following seven players were out for Sunday’s game because of COVID-19 protocols: Javonte Green, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Semi Ojeleye, Grant Williams, Robert Williams III, and Tristan Thompson.

The Heat had been favored in online sportsbooks by 7.5 points in this rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference finals.

With so many Celtics players out, other games this week are also in danger of being postponed. The first postponement of the year happened the first week of the season when the Rockets fell below eight available players, wiping out its game against Oklahoma City.

Dallas Mavericks Shut Down Training Facility

Already missing Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Josh Richardson because of the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols, another positive test for the Dallas Mavericks forced them to close their practice facility on Sunday.

Maxi Kleber will be in quarantine for up to two weeks, and contact tracing is being done to see if any other Dallas players need to isolate themselves from the rest of the team.

The NBA said again this weekend that it expected to have some postponements over the course of the season, and there are no plans to put the season on pause while the country experiences a rise in COVID-19 cases.

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