NBA teams got a good look at how weird this season can be Saturday.
The Philadelphia 76ers were missing a handful of players, including stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, after Seth Curry reportedly received a positive COVID-19 test result early in Thursday’s game against Brooklyn. The league announced the team’s game against Denver would be played as scheduled in the hours before tipoff.
"I don't think we should (play), but it's not for me to express that," Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers said before the game, later reminding everyone Doc is just a nickname.
"I do worry about our player health on the floor."
It’s a good thing the 76ers avoided injury Saturday, as they had the minimum eight players dressed. That was a formality, as Mike Scott was in uniform but was too hurt to play, according to Rivers.
Denver was without Michael Porter Jr. who missed his fifth consecutive game due to the league’s health and safety protocols. The Nuggets’ previous opponent, the Dallas Mavericks, had three players stay in Denver after a positive test was received before the team’s flight out of town Friday.
“I talked with (NBA president of league operations) Byron Spruell a lot today, back and forth, to see if the game would be happening,” Malone said prior to the game. “Obviously, the show must go on. They deemed it safe enough to play. The Sixers have eight players, which is what you need to play a game. And to be honest, I think we're going to start seeing more of this.”
After the Nuggets’ 115-103 win over the short-handed Sixers, Denver’s players said they trusted the league’s protocols. Gary Harris said he felt fine playing, considering everyone who played Saturday tested negative prior to the game.
“As long as everybody’s staying healthy,” Harris said, “you know, I’m all for hooping.”
Since Saturday’s game was played, the NBA has postponed just one game so far this season, a contest between Houston and Oklahoma City on Dec. 23.