The NBA has postponed Sunday’s Celtics-Heat showdown because of health and safety protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The contest was set to go ahead despite the Celtics missing seven players — including Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown — because of COVID-19 protocols, and nine in total.
But the NBA announced the postponement just hours before tipoff after a Heat player reportedly returned an inconclusive coronavirus test, leaving Miami without the required eight players to play due to contact tracing.
Heat guard Avery Bradley (health and safety protocols) had been ruled out of the game earlier in the day.
The Celtics were set to have the minimum eight players available against the Heat after Javonte Green, Semi Ojeleye, Grant Williams, Robert Williams II and Tristan Thompson were listed as out pregame.
Injuries had already forced Celtics pair Kemba Walker (knee) and Romeo Langford (wrist) to miss the scheduled meeting.
The postponement comes as COVID-19 outbreaks impact the NBA following a coronavirus-hit 2019-20 campaign in the United States. The Eastern Conference-leading 76ers were depleted for Saturday’s loss to the Nuggets after Seth Curry tested positive for the coronavirus.
Contract tracing seriously impacted Doc Rivers’ squad, which was without Curry, Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and Vincent Poirier, adding to injures to All-Star duo Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
Philadelphia was only able to dress eight players against the Nuggets, though Mike Scott was unable to play because of a knee injury.
The Celtics own a 7-3 record in the Eastern Conference; the Heat, last season’s NBA Finals runners-up, are 4-4.
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