There's a reason the NBA felt a sense of resistance from teams when the league was working on the schedule for the 2020-2021 season. In an unrealistic world, the NBA would've been back in the bubble down in Orlando, Florida, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the world at large.
But many players and coaches made it apparent over the summer that they would not be open to another bubble scenario. The NBA considered waiting until January, February, or even March to start the season, but the league could get the NBPA to agree to a late December start.
There were very few setbacks through the first few weeks -- but here in early January, the NBA is getting a reality check as teams are being struck hard by COVID-19. This week, the Philadelphia 76ers lost more than half their roster due to the effects of the virus.
Although Seth Curry was the only player to test positive, seven players were questionable ahead of Saturday's game against the Denver Nuggets due to COVID health and safety protocols.
After further review, three Sixers found themselves cleared for action, but the remaining four were forced into quarantine and will remain out for some time. That left the Sixers with just seven available players on Saturday.
The 76ers aren't the only NBA team dealing with major setbacks. Their Eastern Conference rivals, the Boston Celtics, are in a similar position. Ahead of Boston's Sunday night matchup against the Miami Heat, they have eight players currently listed as questionable or out due to health and safety protocols.
In addition to the eight players dealing with a COVID-related setback, the Celtics also have Kemba Walker still out with an injury, leaving them with just eight players available to play in their Sunday night game.
Like the Sixers, the Celtics are totally unclear on when they will get at least a majority of their roster back in action. The positive in this situation for both teams is that they have a 7-3 record, sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference.
However, with both teams missing key players for an undisclosed amount of time, both of their statuses at the top of the conference can quickly change as the NBA schedule is completely unforgiving in this type of scenario.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_