Despite the Covid increase, the NBA’s Christmas show continues
As the NBA grapples with the development of the Omicron coronavirus type, the league’s Christmas Day slate appears to be lacking in luster. Despite the Covid increase, the NBA’s Christmas show still continues.
In a battle of the league’s top two teams, the Golden State Warriors, headed by NBA three-point king Stephen Curry, travel to Phoenix to face the Suns.
It appears to be the highlight of a five-game slate that will be short on star power, with Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant and, most likely, Dallas’ Luka Doncic among the scores of NBA regulars forced to sit out due to Covid-19 health and safety standards.
On Friday, there was some good news when ESPN reported that Milwaukee’s two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo had cleared protocols.
However, the Finals MVP from last season was said to be testing his conditioning before deciding whether or not to play against the Boston Celtics on Saturday.
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“Well, this is the unknown,” remarked LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, referring to dealing with not only injury absences but also the sudden unavailability of players who test positive and must segregate from their teammates.
“I always say that each year brings its unique set of obstacles, and this year is no exception. You could have one person one night and not the next. You have no idea; it’s all up in the air.
“At this point, determining who is negative and who is positive is a crapshoot every time you do a test.” All you have to do now is find out who is accessible and go from there.”
The Lakers take on the Eastern Conference-leading Nets, who have had three games postponed due to Covid’s absences, which left them with insufficient players to field a squad.
Although Brooklyn has been able to welcome back James Harden, Nets coach Steve Nash said he didn’t expect Durant to be cleared to return before Saturday.
“No matter what the conditions are, it’s a game that both teams want to win,” James said. “Will it be one of the high-profile games that I’m used to playing on Christmas Day?” No. There are so many males out.
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“You know, for a lot of the teams in the league right now, this entire protocol problem has grown a lot worse.”
The NBA has changed its rules to allow teams to supplement their rosters with players from the G-developmental League.
They’ve also talked about changing the return-to-play rules for individuals who end up in Covid regimens, so that vaccinated, asymptomatic players can go back on the court sooner.
The New York Knicks play the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden on Christmas Day, the NBA champion Bucks play the Boston Celtics, and the Utah Jazz plays the Dallas Mavericks.
In their loss to the Bucks on Thursday, the Mavs had seven players out due to Covid concerns, while the Jazz beat a Minnesota Timberwolves club that was also missing seven regulars.
“With the number of guys in the protocol at the moment, it almost feels like we’re going back to when it first started two years ago,” Utah forward Joe Ingles said on Thursday.
Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz’s standout forward, said he was still looking forward to his second Christmas Day game.
He stated of the weakened rosters, “I don’t care.” “We’ll be performing on Christmas Eve. So go out there and put on a show while having a good time.”
It’s a chance for the Warriors and Suns to gain an advantage in a race that many believe will lead directly to the Western Conference finals.
After a trip to Milwaukee last Christmas, the Warriors wished it was taking place on their home turf.
“I believe there should be a regulation in the NBA that you should not be on the road for two years in a row,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
The Omicron Variant
The Omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and how easily Omicron spreads compared to Delta remains unknown. So far, the omicron is the most deadly of all the previous cases of coronavirus pandemic (covid-19). But the World Health Organisation has advised all to take the jab and still follow the protocols to avoid spreading the virus.