Pels-Mavs, Celtics-Bulls called off due to COVID

The NBA called off two more games because of COVID-19-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. That 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 pandemic.

The Mavericks-Pelicans game and Bulls-Celtics game increase the total games postponed this season because of coronavirus-related matters to four and means the league will have three straight days of postponements. The Heat are scheduled to play in Philadelphia on Tuesday — but, as of Monday afternoon, they remained in their Boston hotel, unsure of their next steps. The 76ers played Saturday with eight players available, but only seven of them healthy in a loss to the Denver Nuggets.

Dallas did not have the minimum of eight players cleared to play Monday, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The league says it will meet Monday with the National Basketball Players’ Association about “modifying the league’s Health and Safety Protocols.” The NBA also has scheduled a special Board of Governors meeting for Tuesday, sources tell Wojnarowski.

The topics that will be discussed during Monday’s meeting, according to sources, are potentially re-examining shootarounds and practice lengths, pregame and postgame socializing on court, further restrictions on restaurant dining and tighter rules on mask-wearing.

There were four Dallas players on the COVID-19 protocol list as of Sunday night, the newest addition then being Maxi Kleber, who tested positive for the coronavirus, sources told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. 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.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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