The NBA and everyone involved knew the 2020-21 season was going to be complicated. Without the benefit of the bubble, each team is subject to the chance that a COVID diagnosis could sideline important players for weeks at a time. Less than a month through the season, that has proved more true than anticipated.
The Philadelphia 76ers suffered a coronavirus outbreak a few days ago. It all came to a head today when the Sixers were at risk of not having enough players eligible to play against the Nuggets this afternoon. Under the new rules for this season, that would result in a forfeit. Philly got tests results back for three players this morning, and they now have nine.
But the burden on the players active would obviously be immense if only nine guys can take the court. Philadelphia, perhaps more than any other team in the league given the injury history of their key players, does not want Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons playing 35-plus minutes simply because they don't have an option.
Thus, the Sixers have declared both their young superstars inactive for tonight's game. That brings them down to seven players, and Mike Scott is technically active. But Doc Rivers said he has no plan to force Scott to play just because they need eight players given where Scott is coming along on his injury recovery.
Rivers doesn't think the game should be played. It's hard to disagree!
The NBA cannot do what the NFL did and just push through for the sake of getting everything done on time. Health and safety matters over competitive balance, and it's way easier to make up basketball games than football games.
The Sixers can't play seven players. It would be a joke of a game and significantly increases the risk of injury for the guys that are playing. There's no reason to not push the game back. The risk of infection remains high even after most of the roster tested negative after Seth Curry tested positive earlier in the week.
There's no reason to go ahead. If they do, what exactly are we doing here?