Virus-hit Celtics down to National Basketball Association minimum eight to face Miami

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Boston Celtics Without Three Players Due To COVID-19 Protocols

After scoring 32 points on Friday night against the Washington Wizards, Boston's Jayson Tatum learned that he had tested positive for COVID-19, according to a Boston Globe report.

The situation grew more complex as the teams got closer to the scheduled 7 p.m. ET tipoff.

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The NBA season is stumbling out of the gates. with multiple games being postponed due to COVID-19.

Heat guard Avery Bradley (health and safety protocols) had been ruled out of the game earlier in the day. This is done to assess the individual's medical condition and gather information on any prior known exposures to any other individuals such as teammates, coaches, team staff and opposing players. But NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told teams last month that issues would be "inevitable" with games going on outside a bubble, and he's been proven correct. "As long as they're trying, I feel like that's what best for the players".

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While Marcus Smart has started nine games for Boston and center Daniel Theis has started every game for the Celtics, the other six players available have a combined two starts among them all.

There were four Dallas players on the COVID-19 protocol list as of Sunday night, the newest addition then being Maxi Kleber. After contact tracing, around half of the Sixers squad has been ruled out for the next week or so due to the league's health and safety protocols. A game between Oklahoma City and Houston was postponed on December 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. Philadelphia had to play Saturday's game against the Denver Nuggets with only eight active players in part because Tobias Harris, Shake Milton, Matisse Thybulle and Vincent Poirier were unavailable reportedly because of contact tracing. But it's hardly been uncommon for National Basketball Association players to miss games this season over virus-related issues, without the safety of the bubble.

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald.

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