The NBA continues to see a number of players go into COVID protocols every day, and while pausing the season (as the NHL has) doesn’t appear to be on the table, the league has recognized the need to postpone games for teams that do see an outbreak.
The reality of the pandemic for everyone is that the virus does not care about timing or plans, and as the NBA heads towards its biggest day of the regular season with its five-game slate on Christmas Day, there is a real chance that they will need to postpone one or more of those games if some teams continue to trend in the wrong direction — for example, the Nets have had two straight games postponed with 10 players in protocols, but the hope is that some, like James Harden, can return before Saturday’s action.
On Tuesday, the league reportedly sent a memo to those teams playing on Christmas Day noting that it’s possible for games to be moved around as late as December 24 in order to fill the three ABC windows — 2:30 p.m., 5:00 p.m., and 8:00 pm. ET — if there are postponements (meaning the ESPN windows of 12:00 and 10:30 could be vacated if a game must be called off).
The NBA told Christmas Day teams to be prepared for game times to shift as late as Dec. 24 with a priority on filling the ABC windows of 2:30 PM ET, 5 PM and 8 PM, according to memo shared with the 10 teams playing on Saturday.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 21, 2021
It’s not a surprise that the league would make that its contingency plan, as they will hope to be able to contest at least three of the scheduled five games on Christmas Day. A number of stars are potentially out for Christmas, and the Hawks appear to be at the beginning of a team outbreak, with Danilo Gallinari and Clint Capela joining Trae Young in protocols on Tuesday, which could lead their game with the Knicks to be pushed back if more positives begin to mount.