No one is happy.
Playing professional sports in the middle of a pandemic is a messy business.
Some Major League Baseball teams reportedly lost hundreds of millions last season. The NHL recently claimed it expects to lose more than a billion this year. And those problems are certainly plaguing the NFL and NBA as well.
Stadiums are uncharacteristically empty. Games are sometimes cancelled. Players sometimes have to sit out thanks to contact tracing.
No one is happy.
But the Philadelphia 76ers have one of the biggest beefs.
76ers forced to play Saturday with just seven healthy players
On Saturday, the NBA did not postpone the 76ers game with the Denver Nuggets, even though Philadelphia only had seven healthy players thanks to COVID contact tracing. The league requires eight players to suit up for a game to be played. So the 76ers had to dress an injured Mike Scott, even though he had no chance of playing. Not surprisingly, the Sixers lost 115-103.
But a day later, COVID protocols left both the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics struggling to field a full roster. And this time, the NBA postponed the game. The inconsistency did not go unnoticed by Sixers star Joel Embiid.
Soon after the Celtics/Heat game got postponed, Embiid tweeted “THEY HATE THE PROCESS.”
It’s not hard to imagine the tweet was directed directly at the league.
Embiid scored 45 points to prevent another short-handed defeat
Last night, Embiid may have used that extra motivation to fuel his best performance of the season and perhaps one of the best of his entire career.
The 76ers had their second game in as many nights, following a loss to the Atlanta Hawks Monday when the team had to play short-handed once again. But on Tuesday, Embiid racked up 45 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and five steals to lead Philadelphia over a slightly-less shorthanded Miami team, 137-134 in overtime. His performance was highlighted by a stretch in the fourth quarter and overtime when he scored 11 straight points for the Sixers.
“We needed it tonight,” Embiid told ESPN. “We lost three games in a row. Our mentality should always be we should never lose two games in a row, and we lost three in a row. So there was no chance we were going down losing four in a row. So whatever I had to do and whatever my teammates had to do, we did it and we got the win.”
Seth Curry’s positive test was the first domino to fall for 76ers
The Sixers have been short-handed since guard Seth Curry tested positive last week and four other players were ruled out (Tobias Harris, Shake Milton, Matisse Thybulle and Vincent Poirier) with contact tracing. The roster upheaval has forced Embiid to even play some point guard, but the superstar center has answered the challenge.
In order for Curry to return, he will need to test negative twice at least 24 hours apart or wait 10 days from the first positive test. The requirements are a little less clear for the players forced out by contact tracing, which is one of the many challenges that NBA teams are dealing with during this COVID-disrupted season.
NBA wagers carry a little more risk this season
Those who do any NBA betting this season need to be fully aware of any players who are already ruled out by COVID tests and/or contact tracing. They also need to understand that rosters could change at any given moment. Wizards guard Bradley Beal was recently removed from a game following warm-ups Saturday, after he was deemed a close contact with a Boston Celtics player, Jayson Tatum.
So some of the most important attributes this season are flexibility, and certainly resilience too. The Sixers and Embiid have shown both. Which is why the team is 8-4 and is in second place behind the Celtics in the Atlantic Division. Philadelphia’s next game is Thursday at 7 p.m. against the Heat again. PA online sports betting apps should have lines up for the game soon.
And regardless of who takes the floor, the Sixers will be ready.
“You can’t complain about it,” Embiid told ESPN‘s Tim Bontemps. “Wins still count, losses still count; we need to get all these wins. We need to keep fighting until those guys are back, and that’s our job.”