Nuggets vs. Nets, Full List of NBA Game Postponements amid COVID-19 Outbreaks

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 19, 2021

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 13: A logo honoring the 75th anniversary of the NBA is seen on the backboard before the game between the Denver Nuggets and the Washington Wizards at Ball Arena on December 13, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images)
C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images

With the omicron variant of COVID-19 surging worldwide, the NBA is having to adapt on the fly.

The league announced five games have been postponed after an increasing number of players and team staffers entered health and safety protocols:

Sunday, Dec. 19

Denver Nuggets at Brooklyn Nets

Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks

New Orleans Hornets at Philadelphia 76ers 

Monday, Dec. 20

Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors

Tuesday, Dec. 21

Washington Wizards at Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets are a perfect microcosm for the difficulties some NBA teams are facing.

With their roster significantly reduced for the time being, the Nets announced plans to welcome back Kyrie Irving as a part-time player. Irving has yet to play this season because of his failure to adhere to New York City's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

One day after Brooklyn's announcement, the star guard entered the league's health and safety protocols, prolonging his hiatus from the team.

Tim Bontemps @TimBontemps

The Nets now have 10 players in the protocols, including Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving. Nic Claxton is also sitting out tonight with wrist soreness. That’s 11 players who won’t be available tonight against Orlando.

The NBA staged the 2020-21 season without having to initiate a leaguewide pause. An outbreak among the Washington Wizards forced them to remain dormant for more than a week, but that was an exception. 

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Baxter Holmes reported Friday there was "an overwhelming sentiment" among team governors to avoid postponing or canceling games. The omicron variant is causing problems on a scale that may force the NBA's hand to an even larger degree.

Baxter Holmes @Baxter

*As of this writing, it is 64 players and TWO coaches — Alvin Gentry on 12/15, Frank Vogel on 12/19 — in the past six days.

Kirk Goldsberry @kirkgoldsberry

NBA Players Entering Protocols Since Opening Night<br>(10-Day Moving Average) <a href="https://t.co/hA4YawqQVt">pic.twitter.com/hA4YawqQVt</a>

According to Wojnarowski and Holmes, the NBA is attempting to combat the present situation by requiring teams to sign players to replace those in health and safety protocols.

There's also some within the league who are advocating for allowing asymptomatic players to suit up. The NFL made a similar change to its COVID-19 protocols in the wake of outbreaks among multiple teams.