The NBA has been desperately trying to avoid postponing games this season, instituting new hardship rules that require teams to fill roster spots with unlimited 10-days for COVID absences that keep teams at the eight-player minimum needed to play games even as some teams have seen more than 10 regular players enter protocols. Most recently, the protocols for players returning was brought down from 10 days to five for asymptomatic players in accordance with new CDC guidelines, allowing players to return faster and avoid there being entire weeks where players who entered protocol on different days were all out.
However, for teams on road trips, sometimes if cases pile up there isn’t a way to fill those spots and get players into town in time for games, which is what happened on Wednesday with the Miami Heat. When PJ Tucker, Gabe Vincent, and Max Strus all entered protocols in the afternoon mere hours before a game with the Spurs in San Antonio, the Heat dipped below that eight active player limit and the NBA was left with no choice other than to postpone the game.
The following was released by the NBA: pic.twitter.com/fQZ2ZC8Zed
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) December 29, 2021
Overall, it’s the 10th game postponed this season by the NBA. The Spurs are dealing with their own key COVID absence in Dejounte Murray, as there have hardly been any teams in the league that have dodged significant COVID absences to this point. Miami’s next game will be in Houston on Friday, and one would expect some hardship signings to come in the next day or so to get them into Texas. The Spurs are likewise in action on Friday as they head to Memphis to face the Grizzlies.