The second half of another strange N.B.A. season in the pandemic has begun.
In the first half, multiple players missed several games because of health concerns related to the coronavirus, even if they didn’t contract the virus. Teams have missed games. At one point, the Washington Wizards did not have enough players to practice. Almost every team in the N.B.A. has been affected in some way.
As action resumes, here is where the league stands with the virus, and other story lines to watch.
Some of the questions we'll answer:
Are fans allowed in arenas yet?
So far, 14 of 30 teams allow fans to attend games in varying capacities: Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Indiana, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Orlando, Phoenix and Utah, plus both the Nets and the Knicks. Some other franchises will be allowing fans soon: San Antonio (March 12), Charlotte (March 13), Philadelphia (March 14), Detroit (March 17) Toronto (March 19; this will be in Tampa, Fla.) and Boston (March 22).
Will the Knicks make the playoffs?
This isn’t the piece for that.
But will fans be able to watch the Knicks in person in the playoffs?
You got me. It’s possible.
How many games were postponed in the first half?
A total of 31 games were postponed when teams did not have enough players because of positive tests or contact tracing. All are expected to be made up.
Are enhanced protocols still in place?
They are. In January, the N.B.A. and the players’ union announced — following a surge of postponements — that players were being directed to spend their time almost exclusively at home or, if on the road, in their hotel rooms. Initially, the tightening was described as at least two weeks. But it is still in place.
But didn’t they just have an All-Star Game in Atlanta?
So most of the league’s best players traveled to Atlanta for an exhibition game. Was that an unnecessary risk?
So far, no players are publicly known to have tested positive coming out of All-Star festivities. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers, who were supposed to play, missed the All-Star Game because of contact tracing after their barber tested positive for the coronavirus. Both will also miss Thursday’s game against the Chicago Bulls.
How many players have tested positive for the virus?
Beginning with the weekly testing report on Dec. 10, the first after players entered training camp, 60 players have tested positive. According to the most recent report by the N.B.A., two new players have returned positive tests since March 3.
Why haven’t I seen Wayne Knight in the ads for “Space Jam 2?”
I’m sorry, Mr. Knight. I can’t answer that.
Can the Texas teams — the Spurs, the Rockets and the Mavericks — fill their arenas now?
Recently, Gov. Greg Abbott, Republican of Texas, ended the state’s mask mandate and said that all businesses could operate without capacity limits.
No. All teams must still adhere to the N.B.A.’s protocols, which require social distancing between groups of ticket holders. The Spurs will allow about 3,200 fans. The Mavericks have been topping out at 4,000, but Mark Cuban, the team’s owner, also recently said on a podcast, “We think that by the end of the regular season we’ll have full houses, because like the president said, anybody who would want a vaccine will be able to get a vaccine.” The Rockets allow roughly 4,000 or so fans.
Will N.B.A. players get vaccinated?
Commissioner Adam Silver has said repeatedly that he does not want N.B.A. players to get vaccinated ahead of their eligibility. He also expressed openness to players receiving the vaccine as part of a public awareness campaign.
Last weekend, Silver told reporters that he was unaware of any players who had been vaccinated.
“I also think being realistic, around the N.B.A., as I said, we have no plans to mandate that players get vaccinated,” Silver said. “For any sort of large scale, required vaccinations to take place, that can only happen with the players’ association.”
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