The Sixers and Heat battle NBA COVID surge ahead of tonight’s game
The Philadelphia 76ers are almost unrecognizable over the past 5 days. Last week at this time, the 76ers were 7-2, Embiid was already in MVP talks, Seth Curry and Tobias Harris were exceeding expectations, and Ben Simmons was stacking the stat sheet in every way possible. Last Saturday, everything changed. Seth Curry tested positive for COVID-19, over half of the team entered health and safety protocols, Simmons was injured but not reported so the Sixers were fined $25K, and Embiid missed time with back tightness.
With Tyrese Maxey as an exception, the Sixers “Pandemic Process” fell to the Nuggets on Saturday. Last night was no different as they lost to the Atlanta Hawks. Embiid put up 24 points with 11 rebounds while Tyrese Maxey and Isiah Joe continue to show promise. It simply wasn’t enough and the Sixers are now 7-4 on the season.
While the NBA continues to announce postponements due to COVID-19 protocols, as of now, the Sixers continue to court a skeleton crew and will face the Miami Heat, who are also dealing with a skeleton crew. The Heat are without eight of their top players: Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, Kendrick Nunn, Bam Adebayo, Moe Harkless, Udonis Haslem, and KZ Okpala. These players come as an addition to Avery Bradley as he was already in the protocol.
The Sixers are no different and will be without Tobias Harris, Seth Curry, Shake Milton, and Matisse Thybulle. You also need to consider the fact that this is the second game of a back-to-back so Embiid’s availability tonight could also be in question. Ben Simmons is dealing with an injury, and his current status for tonight remains in question.
The NBA called a special meeting today to review their current health and safety protocols given the events that unfolded over the past week. They are currently re-examining shoot-arounds, practice lengths, pre and post game socializing, and further restrictions on teams dining and mask-wearing while traveling.
As of now, it does seem that the NBA is adamant of working through these issues and continuing the season. That could certainly change given the amount of players that are out for each team. Right now, the Mavericks have announced they are shutting down their practice facilities as four players tested positive for COVID-19 while contact tracing concerns spread throughout their entire organization.
The Mavericks-Pelicans game last night was postponed and the Celtics-Bulls game tonight has been postponed already as the Celtics deal with their own COVID-19 issues. The Wizards have also cancelled practice after two players entered health and safety protocols today.
Back to tonight’s Sixers-Heat game, we are heading for what might look more like a summer league game rather than a game between two Eastern Conference contenders just a week ago. It’s tough to imagine the NBA making it through the next few weeks but for now, this seems to be something that we are all just going to have to deal with. The Process hater himself, Adam Silver, was quoted stating that the NBA looks to improve on their protocols and “get through the darkest days” with the hope that February will bring stability.
Until then, it’s all about survival for the Sixers, who need to find a way to win some games after getting blown out the last two with a Pandemic Process lineup.