Hamilton Journal News

Raptors’ virus issues worsen, game vs. Bulls called off

- By Tim Reynolds

The Toronto Raptors’ issues with the coronaviru­s have worsened, prompting the NBA to call off their game scheduled for Sunday night against the Chicago Bulls.

The league said the Raptors are dealing with positive test results, without disclosing how many, and that combined with ongoing contact tracing issues meant they would not have the league-required eight players available to play.

Toronto played Friday without head coach Nick Nurse, several other assistants and staffers and starting forward Pascal Siakam because of virus-related issues. Assistant coach Sergio Scariolo coached the team to a win over Houston and had been in line to coach again Sunday.

The Raptors-Bulls game is the 30th to be postponed so far this season because of COVID-19 testing or contact tracing.

It was the first postponeme­nt this season for the Raptors, who are playing their home games in Tampa, Florida, because of coronaviru­s restrictio­ns in Canada. Chicago has now had four of its games pushed back, all because its opponent for each of those contests was going through a virus-related problem.

The only teams that have not had a game postponed by virus issues so far this season are Brooklyn, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers.

All NBA players and coaches are tested daily. The Raptors used 12 players on Friday and had 14 listed as available to play that night. For Sunday’s game, Siakam was the only player who had been listed on Saturday’s injury report as out because of health and safety protocols — which indicates that results that came back on Saturday either showed more problems, or the contact tracing investigat­ions showed that players had been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and may have to quarantine.

About half the league’s teams are allowing a small number of fans into arenas for games, but testing protocols and other rules have been stiffened as the season has gone on in the interest of safety. The league has been able to play about 94% of its scheduled games so far this season, which NBA Commission­er Adam Silver and some players have touted as some measure of success to this point.

“Hopefully, going forward, we can continue it,” Miami forward Kelly Olynyk said Sunday. “Obviously, we’d love to see fans back in the arenas, travel, all that kind of stuff be permitted and allowed when it’s safe to do so. But right now, we’re still trying to get the games in as safely as we can.”

Chicago had traveled to Tampa on Saturday for the game and after the postponeme­nt was announced changed its travel plans to fly back home Sunday afternoon. The Bulls are scheduled to play Monday at home against Denver.

Toronto’s next game, for now anyway, is scheduled for Tuesday against Detroit.

The NBA released its schedule for the second half of the season last week, and those jam-packed lists — some teams are slotted to play 40 times in a span of 68 days — includes games postponed in the first half because of the virus and the February ice storm that caused a handful of postponeme­nts in Texas.

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