The NBA on Tuesday instituted aggressive measures to combat an increase of COVID-19 infection, in the wake of the Miami Heat’s game on Sunday night in Boston being postponed and pandemic protocols ravaging Erik Spoelstra’s roster.
COVID-19 infection has led to the cancellation of at least five games, including that Sunday night Heat game against the Celtics at TD Garden.
The Heat since have moved on to Philadelphia for Tuesday night’s game against the 76ers, but with eight players away from the team due to coronavirus protocols: Bam Adebayo, Avery Bradley, Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, Maurice Harkless, Udonis Haslem, Kendrick Nunn and KZ Okpala.
Those eight returned Monday night to South Florida. The earliest any of those eight is expected to return is Saturday’s game against the Detroit Pistons at AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat’s only intervening game between then and Tuesday’s game is a Thursday’s rematch against the 76ers at Wells Fargo Center.
The 76ers also remain shorthanded due to protocols, with Tuesday absences for that reason from Seth Curry, Terrance Ferguson, Tobias Harris, Shake Milton, Vincent Poirier and Matisse Thybulle.
Among changes newly instituted or updated that are expected to be in place for at least two weeks:
-- Players and team staff are required to remain at their residence (when the team is in its home market) at all times except to attend team-related activities at the team facility or arena, exercise outside, or perform essential activities, or as a result of extraordinary circumstances.
-- Away-from-work interactions are limited to those with household members, family and any personal staff working regularly in the home. When on the road, players and team staff are prohibited from leaving their hotel (other than for team activities or emergencies) or interacting with non-team guests at the hotel.
-- Any pre-game meeting in the locker room is limited to no more than 10 minutes in duration and all attendees must wear a facemask. All other meetings involving players and team staff must continue to occur on the court, in a league-approved space, or at the arena in a room large enough to provide for at least 6 feet of distance between individuals. Meeting attendees must continue to wear facemasks at all times.
-- For team flights, teams must create a seating plan on planes so that players whose assigned seats are closest to each other on the bench for games are also closest to each other on the team plane.