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While the Sixers are especially snakebit, this week underscored COVID-19′s league-wide impact

Keith Pompey, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Basketball

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The 76ers and the NBA are receiving reminders that the coronavirus pandemic is not over.

The Sixers posted a 127-124 overtime victory Monday night over a Charlotte Hornets squad that was minus three key starters and two rotation players because of COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

It marked the second game that guards LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier, center Mason Plumlee, and reserve forward Jalen McDaniels missed after testing positive on Saturday. Meanwhile, reserve point guard Ish Smith, a former Sixer, missed his first game while in protocols. They will be sidelined at least 10 days or have to get two negative tests within 24 hours in order to return.

The Sixers know what that's like, with members of their roster having missed a combined 27 games this season with positive COVID-19 tests — and even that number is a bit misleading.

Tobias Harris missed Friday's 98-96 victory in Atlanta with lingering effects of COVID. Following that game, coach Doc Rivers said Harris was dealing with the flu. However, the starting power forward tested negative for the flu. The belief is the 104-degree temperature, sinus, and upper respiratory infections he started experiencing shortly after Wednesday night's 88-87 loss in Boston were the spin-off of his previous COVID diagnosis. His symptoms didn't ease up until Sunday morning.

Harris finished with 21 points on 7-for-18 shooting to go with 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks in a team-high 40 minutes, 50 seconds in Monday's victory over the Hornets (14-12). He was game-best plus-13 for the Sixers (13-11), winners of two straight games.

 

"Obviously, being in the bed the last couple of days, I still have symptoms for my whatever we want to call it at this point," Harris said. "But I was just trying to work my way out there and see how I was going to feel out there."

Aside from feeling a little fatigued, he felt good after getting through the first four minutes.

Harris, a well-conditioned athlete, still has moments when he's having a tough time catching his breath.

How good can this Sixers group be? Its ceiling remains hard to grasp at the moment — Keith Pompey

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