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Dr. Anthony Fauci is impressed by the NBA's restart plan

Dr. Anthony Fauci is impressed by the NBA's restart plan

While there has been a recent wave of snags looking to upend the NBA's proposed return, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci,  gave the NBA's efforts his stamp of approval in a recent interview with Stadium.

“I actually have looked at that plan and it’s really quite creative what they are really trying to do," Fauci said. "I think they might very well be successful with it — to create a situation where it is as safe as it possibly could be for the players by creating this bubble."

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"Essentially testing everybody, make sure that you start with a baseline of everybody being negative and trying to make sure that there is no influx into that cohort of individuals and do a tournament-type play."

A group of the NBA's top young stars, Miami's Bam Adebayo, Sacramento's De'Aaron Fox, the Los Angeles Lakers' Kyle Kuzma, Utah's Donovan Mitchell and Boston's Jayson Tatum, recently spoke with executive director Michele Roberts and senior counsel Ron Klempner about  "possible insurance allowances for players," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday afternoon.

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The goal of the insurance policy is to protect players, financially, "in the event of serious COVID-19 illnesses or career-threatening injuries suffered in Orlando," Wojnarowski said. 

A stamp of approval from Fauci may, or may not, impact the decision making process of those NBA players still on the fence about resuming the season.  Only time will tell. 

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How to watch Wizards vs. Pelicans

How to watch Wizards vs. Pelicans

In their fifth game inside the NBA's Disney bubble, the Washington Wizards will get their first look at New Orleans Pelicans rookie phenom Zion Williamson. The question is how much will Williamson play?

After losing, 107-98, to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, the Wizards (24-44) dropped to 0-4 in bubble play, severely hurting their playoffs, as well as their lottery odds. While not officially eliminated from the playoff picture, they now trail the Orlando Magic (32-37) by 7.5 games for the final spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Pelicans (29-39) have their own ground to make up as trail the Memphis Grizzlies (32-37) by 2.5 games for the final spot in the Western Conference with four other teams between them. With fierce competition for the final few playoff spots, will the Pelicans be willing to increase Williamson's playing minutes

Friday's broadcast will be a special one, as five-time Wizards All-Star John Wall will join Justin and Glenn on the broadcast. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.
 

WIZARDS vs. PELICANS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. New Orleans Pelicans

Where: Visa Athletic Center, Orlando, Fla.

When: Friday, August 7, 8 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards vs. Pelicans will be on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Washington Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Pelicans on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM


WIZARDS vs. PELICANS TV SCHEDULE

7:00 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE) (NBCSW)

8:00 PM: Wizards at Pelicans (LIVE) (NBCSW)

10:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE) (NBCSW)

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WIZARDS VS. PELICANS WHAT TO WATCH

The Wizards will likely have their hands full with former No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson. Despite only playing in 23 games this season, Williamson is averaging 22.4 points and 6.2 rebounds in just 27.9 minutes. The minutes will be the thing to watch as the Pelicans have kept a watchful eye on their superstar's workload.

Despite competing in the NBA bubble without their three top players John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Davis Bertans, the Wizards have been remained competitive despite their record. Thomas Bryant's performance, particularly his recent defensive play, is an example of how the Wizards' bubble experience will likely be measured on the growth and development of its young players.

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WIZARDS VS. PELICANS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Thomas Bryant, C, Wizards (12.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.9 apg): There's no denying Thomas Bryant's physical skill set. In Wednesday's matchup against 76ers center Joel Embiid, Bryant held The Process to just 3-of-11 shooting. Bryant will need to continue his defensive momentum on Friday against a Pelicans team averaging 115.8 points per game, good for fifth-best in the NBA.

Zion Williamson, PF, Pelicans (22.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.1 apg): This one is easy. If the Pelicans are going to make noise in the Disney bubble, it;ll have to be Zion Williamson leading the way. On Thursday against the Kings, Williamson recorded 24 points on 12 shots in 21 minutes. That kind of efficiency is not something you see often, especially by a rookie.

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With Zion Williamson next, a look at NBA phenoms' first games against the Wizards

With Zion Williamson next, a look at NBA phenoms' first games against the Wizards

The Wizards are expected to get their first look at No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson on Friday night as they battle the New Orleans Pelicans at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. This should be their first glimpse of the phenom in any type of game, though they were supposed to see him last summer in Las Vegas, if you recall. Williamson hurt his knee in a previous Summer League game that was famously cancelled due to an earthquake.

There was anticipation then and there is plenty of it now, as Williamson has since become a sensation in the NBA. Though he has only played in 23 games, he has already done some extraordinary things. Williamson is averaging 22.4 points and 6.2 rebounds in just 27.9 minutes.

Against the Kings on Thursday night, Williams had 24 points on 12 shots in 21 minutes. His efficiency is not the type of stuff you see often, especially for a rookie.

And those are just the numbers. Anyone who has watched him play can attest to the unusual athletic gifts that he has.

"Explosive. Just dynamic," Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said. "His athleticism is off the charts. His second jump is as good as everybody's first jump. He's a quick jumper. He's going to be a problem. He's going to be a problem for a lot of years. It's impressive what he's done in the limited minutes that he's played here."

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Williamson may be one of a kind with his strength, first step and leaping ability, but he's just the latest in a long line of star prospects to reach the NBA level. As he gets set to face the Wizards, here is a look at how some other rookie phenoms have fared in their first games against the franchise...

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (MIL) - Nov. 9, 1969

24 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists, 10-22 FG, 48 minutes; Bullets won by 11

Larry Bird (BOS) - Oct. 19, 1979

12 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, 6-14 FG, 22 minutes; Celtics won by 37

Magic Johnson (LAL) - Jan. 9, 1980

14 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, block, steal, 4-6 FG, 26 minutes; Bullets won by 2

Michael Jordan (CHI) - Oct. 26, 1984 (NBA debut)

16 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 steals, 5-16 FG, 40 minutes; Bulls won by 16

Shaquille O'Neal (ORL) - Nov. 7, 1992 

22 points, 15 rebounds, 4 blocks, 8-16 FG, 40 minutes; Magic won by 5

Allen Iverson (PHI) - March 4, 1997

18 points, 13 assists, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 7-20 FG, 45 minutes; Bullets won by 1

Tim Duncan (SAS) - Nov. 26, 1997

18 points, 14 rebounds, 5 blocks, 5 turnovers, 9-15 FG, 41 minutes; Wizards won by 4

LeBron James (CLE) - Nov. 8, 2003

17 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds, steal, block, 8-19 FG, 44 minutes; Cavs won by 13

Kevin Durant (SEA) - Jan. 6, 2008

19 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 7-12 FG, 35 minutes; Wizards won by 22

Derrick Rose (CHI) - Dec. 6, 2008

15 points, 8 assists, 2 steals, 6-12 FG, 37 minutes; Bulls won by 7

Blake Griffin (LAC) - March 12, 2011

26 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 8-17 FG, 30 minutes; Clippers won by 21

Luka Doncic (DAL) - Nov. 6, 2018

23 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, 9-16 FG, 33 minutes; Mavericks won by 19

Ja Morant (MEM) - Dec. 14, 2019

18 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, block, 5-11 FG, 28 minutes; Grizzlies won by 17

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