Heat-Celtics game postponed over COVID-19 contact tracing concerns

Sunday’s game between Boston and Miami was postponed because of contact tracing concerns within the Heat, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday’s game between Boston and Miami was postponed because of contact tracing concerns within the Heat, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.

The Celtics would have been without seven players for the game in accordance with the NBA’s health and safety protocols for dealing with COVID-19, all of them ruled out earlier Sunday — along with two others because of injury. That would have left Boston with only eight available players, the league minimum.

The situation grew more complex as the teams got closer to the scheduled 7 p.m. tipoff. The Heat ruled Avery Bradley out because of the same protocols, and the team was going through contact tracing to see if anyone else would not be eligible to play.

That process was still ongoing Sunday afternoon, and given the uncertainty — whether the Heat would have to deem many players out or not — the decision was made to postpone the game, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because neither the teams nor the league had announced the postponement publicly.

It is the second game postponed in the NBA this season. A game between Oklahoma City and Houston was postponed on Dec. 23 because the Rockets did not have enough eligible players to play — three had returned tests that were either positive or inconclusive for the coronavirus, four others were quarantined, James Harden was unavailable for violating the protocols and another player was out with an injury. That left Houston with seven players.

The Celtics on Sunday ruled out Jaylen Brown, Javonte Green, Semi Ojeleye, Jayson Tatum, Tristan Thompson, Grant Williams and Robert Williams because of the protocols. That’s the most any team has been without because of virus-related issues so far this season but does not necessarily mean any of the affected Celtics tested positive.