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NBA postpones five games over three days, including three on Sunday, due to COVID

Brooklyn Nets v New Orleans Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 12: Kevin Durant #7 and James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets talk during a game against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center on November 12, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

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Avoiding mass postponements of games and schedule re-shuffling was reportedly the mandate of NBA owners on a conference call last week — they did not want a repeat of last season, where 30 games were postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

The virus may have other plans.

The NBA has postponed five games over the next three days due to COVID-19 outbreaks and teams not being able to field eight healthy players. The games are:

The following games are impacted:

Sunday, Dec. 19

Denver at Brooklyn
Cleveland at Atlanta
New Orleans at Philadelphia

Monday, Dec. 20

Orlando at Toronto

Tuesday, Dec. 21

Washington at Brooklyn

That brings to seven the number of postponed games this season, including two Bulls games from last week. Rescheduling will be difficult, unlike last season when the NBA only released half the schedule out of caution, this season the NBA released the full 82-game slate for teams and there are limited spaces to add games.

The Brooklyn Nets have 10 players in COVID-19 protocols, including Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving (who is working his way back to playing in road games).

The Cleveland Cavaliers added five players into COVID protocols on Sunday, making it seven players unavailable for that reason including rookie sensation Evan Mobley and big man Jarrett Allen.

Things may get worse before they get better.

The NBA is encouraging teams — and may soon force them — to call up G-League players on hardship contracts to round out rosters and keep games from being postponed. However, with all the G-League players currently in Las Vegas for the G-League Showcase this week, players are not close enough to their home teams to be called up on very short notice.