COVID-19 Could Force Doc Rivers and the Sixers to Make Drastic Roster Decisions

The Philadelphia 76ers have started the season strong, putting together a 7-2 record through their first nine games. Head coach Doc Rivers seems to have found the formula to having Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid coexist on the court and keeping them effective. Everything is sunny in Philly up to this point in the season.

That was until they were hit was some huge news regarding COVID-19. The Sixers have a game scheduled Saturday against the Denver Nuggets, but things will be different for Philadelphia in this game. They will have to make some desperate decisions to have an adequate roster for their matchup against Denver.

The 76ers have a positive COVID-19 test on their team

The NBA is doing their best to have a season amidst the coronavirus pandemic. They managed to have a successful restart in the bubble environment last summer, but they couldn’t make players and teams repeat that for an entire season. They have protocols in place, but that doesn’t mean positive test won’t happen. The Sixers were the most recent team to have a player test positive for COVID-19.

Sixers guard Seth Curry tested positive on Thursday before their game against the Brooklyn Nets, per Yahoo! Sports. He was sent home from the arena and didn’t play in the game. The positive test forced the entire Sixers team into quarantine in New York, putting their Saturday game against the Nuggets in limbo. 

Curry being in close contact with some of his teammates has forced a number of players into extended quarantine periods. Players like Joel Embiid and Danny Green had to get cleared from the NBA before playing in another game. The contact tracing because of Curry’s positive test and other injuries has decimated the Sixers’ roster. 

The league has said that the Sixers’ game against Denver will go on as scheduled. Unfortunately for Philly, they will have limited numbers Saturday’s against the Nuggets.

Only seven Sixers players will play against the Nuggets

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Entering Saturday’s game, Philadelphia will have to stretch their lineup thin. Seven players will be available for Doc Rivers because of COVID-19 protocols and injuries. They technically have eight, which is the league minimum, but one of those players is out with injury. This is a unique situation for Rivers and his team, as he will have a thin rotation.

“We have eight active players. One is Mike Scott, and I can tell you right now there’s no way I’m going to play him,” Rivers said, per Mike Singer. Philly will be without half of their roster, including their two superstars Embiid and Simmons, due to injuries. With the limited amount of players at his disposal, Rivers isn’t sure the game should be played at all.

“I don’t think we should (play),” said Rivers. It seems the train will keep moving for the NBA, which means the Sixers must make do with the players they have available. With the lack of depth on the roster, Rivers said he might have to make a drastic change to who is orchestrating the Sixers’ in this game. 

Doc Rivers is starting Dwight Howard at point guard

Dwight Howard signed with the Sixers this offseason after playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. The former Defensive Player of the Year doesn’t have the best handles, but he might have the idea to showcase them and his basketball IQ when he takes the floor for Philly. According to Rivers, he’ll be the one bringing the ball up against Denver.

Dwight Howard’s going to play point guard,” Rivers said. Howard hasn’t played point guard at any point in his NBA career, but desperate times call for desperate measures, right? It is very unlikely Rivers was serious about Howard running the point, but that shows how depleted the Sixers roster is due to contact tracing and injuries.

Teams will have to adjust constantly during this season because of the circumstances. The Sixers are the latest team to go through this realization. They will have many of their players out against Denver, but the show will go on. If they somehow manage to win this game, it might be one of the more impressive performances of the season.