We didn’t even mention the Sixers/Hawks game today because it was a joke.
Even with Joel Embiid and Mike Scott cleared to play, Doc Rivers could only field a nine-man squad that did not feature 60% of his starting lineup due to a combination of COVID-19 absences and injury. The result was a second-straight double-digit loss in which four rookies had to play more than 20 minutes.
As such, the Sixers are now losers of three straight games, and have fallen to 7-4 on the season. They play the Miami Heat on Tuesday night, and as of publication of this article they are down seven players while Embiid and Simmons are listed as probable. Miami has EIGHT players out.
Make no mistake, the NBA is putting a horrendous product on the floor right now. The arenas are empty. The teams are depleted. The schedule is crunched. The last two Sixers games have be more or less meaningless as the league attempts to plow through the COVID-19 issue while canceling a handful of matchups here and there, though squads like Philadelphia get stuck playing because they meet the bare minimum requirements to field a team. We’re pulling positive storylines out of this, like the play of Tyrese Maxey, but making players and teams go through this is largely unfair.
Now the NBA is making a few changes in COVID-protocol, according to Woj:
More changes to protocol, sources tell ESPN: At home, players and team staff must remain at residence except to attend team-related activities at facility orarena, exercise outside, perform essential activities or the occurrence of extraordinary circumstances.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 12, 2021
So… they’re beholden to the same rules the general public is being asked to follow.
More Woj tweets, in bullet point format:
- On road, players and staff can’t leave hotel — except for team activities or emergencies, sources tell ESPN. No more list of approved restaurants.
- For minimum of next two weeks, pre-game meetings in locker rooms are limited to 10 minutes — with masks on, sources tell ESPN. All other meetings with players and team staff must be on the court, or a larger space that allows for 6-feet of social distancing.
- Any person who regularly visits the inside the home of a team staff member or player for professional purposes must undergo Covid testing twice per week, sources tell ESPN.
- Sources: League’s mandating increased mask wearing for players in games, except for “cool down chairs” arranged at least 12 feet from bench and 6 feet apart. Players can go there immediately after leaving court during game, but must return to regular seat on bench wearing a mask.
Why not just shut it down for a couple of weeks, get the situation sorted, and then go from there? These changes might help the situation, but in the meantime you are just going about the schedule anyway, as if these games are a matter of life and death and MUST be played.
Look at this 1:30 p.m. Sixers/Heat injury report and tell me, with a straight face, that this game should be played: