The NBA called off two more games because of COVID-related and contact tracing issues, postponing Monday’s game in Dallas between the Mavericks and the New Orleans Pelicans as well as Tuesday’s matchup in Chicago between the Bulls and the Boston Celtics.
Those moves come one day after Miami’s game in Boston was called off because of contact-tracing issues within the Heat, and would have been a matchup where the Celtics would have had only eight available players — after seven were ruled out in accordance with the league’s health and safety protocols for playing amid the ongoing pandemic.
The Mavericks-Pelicans game and Bulls-Celtics game increase the total games postponed this season due to virus-related matters to four. The Heat are scheduled to play in Philadelphia on Tuesday — but, as of Monday afternoon, remained in their hotel in Boston, unsure of their next steps.
Dallas did not have enough players cleared to play Monday because the contact-tracing process was still ongoing, said a person with knowledge of the situation. The person spoke with the The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it had not been disclosed publicly by the league or the team.
“Damn..” Pelicans guard Josh Hart tweeted.
There were four Dallas players on the COVID-19 protocol list as of Sunday night, the newest addition then being Maxi Kleber. Starters Josh Richardson and Dorian Finney-Smith and backup Jalen Brunson had already been ruled out; those three stayed behind in Denver after a win over the Nuggets on Thursday and missed Saturday’s victory at home against Orlando.
The other game, besides Sunday’s Boston-Miami matchup, to have been postponed was the Dec. 23 game between Oklahoma City and Houston. The NBA said Sunday night that the league anticipated there would be issues and has no plans to pause the season because of the current issues some teams are facing.
“Definitely been a unique start to the year,” Heat guard Duncan Robinson said Monday in an appearance on Reddit. “Been different challenges with all the protocols and new norms. I think the general sentiment is that everyone wants to play but also everyone wants to be safe first.”