NEW YORK — After dodging COVID-19 for almost half of the NBA season, the Toronto Raptors have been dealt a big blow.
The NBA called off Toronto's game against the visiting Chicago Bulls on Sunday night due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
In a shortened NBA season reeling from COVID-19 cases and game cancellations, it's the first game cancellation for the Raptors.
The league said the Raptors are dealing with positive test results, and combined with contact tracing issues, won't have the league-required eight players available Sunday.
The team's trouble seemingly started on Friday when the Raptors were missing head coach Nick Nurse, five members of his staff and star forward Pascal Siakam. Assistant Sergio Scariolo stepped in to coach the team to a 122-111 win over the Houston Rockets.
NBA players and staff are tested twice daily. The Raptors had 14 players available on Friday, and played 12. Siakam was the only Raptor player listed on Saturday's injury report as out due to health and safety protocols, suggesting the results and contact tracing investigations from Saturday showed either positive tests or exposure to individuals who had positive results.
The names of players or staff members affected were not revealed.
Prior to Sunday, the Raptors had been one of just four teams with no game postponements. Sunday's game is the 30th to be postponed this season.
Makeup games will add to an already jam-packed second half of the schedule, which was released earlier this week.
The Raptors were already scheduled to play 35 games in 66 days in the season's second half, including a gruelling four-game western road trip that sees Toronto play four games in six days at Denver, Utah and Los Angeles against the Clippers and Lakers.
The Raptors' next game, if indeed they get the green light to go ahead, is Tuesday against Detroit. The one plus is they only play once more — Thursday at Boston — before the all-star break.
The Raptors tip off the second half of the season on March 11 against the visiting Atlanta Hawks.
Because of Canada's border regulations around COVID-19, and health and safety measures in Toronto, the Raptors are playing their home games out of Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla.
Florida added 5,539 coronavirus cases and 118 deaths on Sunday. The state has had more than 1.9 million cases since the pandemic's arrival last March.
— With files from The Associated Press
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021.
The Canadian Press