Virus Protocols Prompt N.B.A. to Postpone Celtics-Heat Game

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The Nuggets won Saturday’s game, 115-103. Tyrese Maxey, the Sixers rookie, scored 39 points in his first career start to help Philadelphia keep the game competitive. But the Nuggets overwhelmed the Sixers in the second half.

The Celtics, who were scheduled to play the Heat at 7 p.m. on Sunday, would have been without seven players because of virus protocols. Before the postponement, the only player the Heat had said would be out because of the protocols was Avery Bradley. The Heat’s next game is against the Sixers on Tuesday.

The Celtics played the Washington Wizards on Friday night. Afterward, Tatum and Wizards guard Bradley Beal stood near each other having a conversation on the court. The Athletic reported that the conversation, with Beal’s exposure to Tatum, was what led to Beal having to miss a game against the Heat on Saturday night. According to multiple reports, Tatum learned after Friday’s game that he had tested positive for the virus.

Even before this weekend, some teams have played games without key players because of the protocols. Kevin Durant, the Nets star, missed most of the last week, but Coach Steve Nash said that he hoped to have Durant back for Sunday evening’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Nuggets have been without forward Michael Porter Jr. all month, and it is unknown when he will return.

Commissioner Adam Silver said at a preseason news conference that he was confident that the N.B.A. would be able to finish a 72-game season.

“If we weren’t, we wouldn’t have started,” Silver said.

But as to what it would take to suspend the season, Silver said: “The view is, I think, if we found a situation where our protocols weren’t working, meaning that not only did we have some cases of Covid but that we were witnessing spread either among teams or even possibly to another team, that would cause us to suspend the season.”

He continued: “I think we are prepared for isolated cases. In fact, based on what we’ve seen in the preseason, based on watching other leagues operating outside the bubble, unfortunately it seems somewhat inevitable.”

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