Before the Miami Heat embarked on their four-game road trip, they didn’t have any players unable to play due to health and safety protocols stemming from COVID-19. Now, after just one road game in Washington D.C., they only have a shell of their roster still eligible to play.
While the Heat nabbed a win for their first away game against the Wizards, they were forced to postpone Sunday’s tilt against Boston Celtics, and now will be forced to move forward to play the 76ers in Philadelphia with a depleted roster.
On January 11, the Heat announced that eight players will be ruled out for Tuesday’s game in Philadelphia, including more than a few starters:
Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Avery Bradley, Goran Dragic, Moe Harkless, Udonis Haslem, Kendrick Nunn, and KZ Okpala traveled back to Miami on Monday to start their 10-14 day quarantine due to COVID-19 contact tracing, Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman tweeted.
“In addition, Meyers Leonard (shoulder strain) questionable for tomorrow’s game,” Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang tweeted. “Kelly Olynyk (groin contusion) and Gabe Vincent (right knee soreness) probable. Heat needs two of these three injured players to reach NBA-minimum of 8 available players vs. 76ers.”
The decision to postpone the game against the Celtics on January 11 came after a Heat player returned an inconclusive test and, with contact tracing, Miami was not able to field a team of eight players, Shams Charania reported. This news was announced after it was already revealed that Miami guard Avery Bradley would be out because of COVID-19-related health and safety protocols.
As for the Heat players that will be available to suit up on Tuesday: Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Precious Achiuwa, Andre Iguodala, Meyers Leonard, Kelly Olynyk (who’s status was upgraded from doubtful to probable), Max Strus, Chris Silva, and Gabe Vincent. As per NBA rules, each team must have at least eight players ready to go for the game to be played.
Coach Spo Said the Heat’s Road Trip Has Been a ‘Sobering’ Experience
Prior to his own team getting wiped out through contact tracing, Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra said learning about how their opponents are so heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic is “sobering,” according to the Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang. “There is an element of unknown and uncertainty. It’s just a reality. It makes everybody feel a little bit uncomfortable.”
Before the Celtics game was canceled, they listed a total of seven players, including star Jayson Tatum, who would be ruled out due to health and safety protocols. Now, having seven players unable to suit up due to COVID-19 seems to be a league-wide issue.
By Saturday evening, it was revealed that Jayson Tatum had tested positive for COVID-19 and would be out for 10-14 days.
The NBA Is Working on a Plan To Keep the 2020-2021 Season Going Without a Forced Suspension
It’s not just the Heat and the Celtics getting hit hard with COVID-19. On Monday, the NBA announced two more games that would have to be postponed. The first game canceled was the Mavericks vs. New Orleans Pelicans, which was scheduled for January 11, as Dallas didn’t have the required eight eligible players, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The other game canceled on Monday was the Celtics match against the Chicago Bulls, which makes sense since most of Boston’s roster just started quarantine the other day.
Thus far, the NBA is determined to keep moving forward with taking an extended break. “We anticipated that there would be game postponements this season and planned the schedule accordingly,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass told ESPN in a statement. “There are no plans to pause the season, and we will continue to be guided by our medical experts and health and safety protocols.”