The NBA Should Be Ashamed if Spurs-Heat Game Takes Place
By Josh Paredes
I understand protecting your product, but this is getting ridiculous. While the San Antonio Spurs have certainly faced some setbacks from the league's health and safety protocols, what the Miami Heat are having to do to avoid postponements isn't right.
After defeating the Washington Wizards by playing just eight guys on Tuesday, the Heat now have to travel to San Antonio for a back-to-back down even more players. Late in their recent win, Jimmy Butler tweaked his ankle and has now been ruled out for Wednesday's game against the Spurs.
The loss of Jimmy means the Heat only had six players available Wednesday afternoon, so they had to sign Aric Holman of the G League Austin Spurs to a 10-day contract just to get to seven. As it stands, they still need one more body to throw on the court, meaning either KZ Okpala will need to be upgraded from questionable or another G League player must be signed to a 10-day contract.
Per NBA policy, at least four "roster" players must be available among the minimum eight required to play a game, but as Winderman cleared up, two-ways now count as regular roster players.
The Spurs-Heat Game Simply Shouldn't Happen
While it will probably end up benefitting the Spurs in the standings, what's happening in the grand scheme of things is more important here. Imagine the shoe being on the other foot and San Antonio having to travel on a back-to-back with only six guys including Joe Wieskamp and Devontae Cacok.
COVID protocols are hitting every team and likely won't stop anytime soon, but there needs to be a better criteria for the product a team puts out on the floor. Making the Heat pick up a nearby G Leaguer (or two) at the last minute is a terrible look for the league.
Gregg Popovich has expressed how every schedule has rough patches and he's done feeling sorry for teams on back-to-backs. This is different, though, and I think we'll likely hear him say this game shouldn't happen either once media availability takes place on Wednesday.
To make things worse, the Heat are facing a seven-game road trip starting Wednesday night that includes another back-to-back on Sunday and Monday.
Nevertheless, Adam Silver has stated it's the NBA's mission to limit postponements by any means necessary, so it's not likely this game will be moved to a later date. The Spurs might get a win out of this one, but that doesn't make it right.
UPDATE: The NBA has made the right call and postponed the game.