The Philadelphia 76ers returned to the court on Thursday after getting a few days off following their win against the Boston Celtics on Monday earlier this week. For the second time this year, the Sixers hosted the Atlanta Hawks.
However, Thursday's Hawks weren't the same team the 76ers faced earlier in the year. As the NBA continues to deal with a league-wide COVID-19 outbreak, many teams have temporarily lost several players to the NBA's health and safety protocol.
Both the Atlanta Hawks and the Sixers happen to have several players in the protocol. When the Sixers and the Hawks battled it out on Thursday night, Philly missed Andre Drummond, Georges Niang, Shake Milton, and Danny Green as they were listed as out due to COVID-19-related reasons.
Meanwhile, the Hawks were missing Trae Young, Clint Capela, Danilo Gallinari, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Lou Williams, Kevin Huerter, De'Andre Hunter, Solomon Hill, and Sharife Cooper. While Atlanta had enough players to avoid postponement, most of their key players were absent.
Add Another One to the Mix
Hawks forward John Collins was one of Atlanta's few key players to face the Sixers on Thursday. Collins also managed to play in Atlanta's Saturday afternoon primetime Christmas Day matchup on the road against the New York Knicks.
However, there's a good chance he'll miss time moving forward as he's been entered into the NBA's health and safety protocol, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
With Collins entering the protocol, he becomes the ninth Hawks player to be ruled out due to COVID-related reasons. Considering Collins just played against the Sixers in Philly a few nights ago, his presence in the protocol could be slightly concerning for the Sixers.
So far, only one member of the Sixers has entered the health and safety protocol since Thursday's matchup. Although Tyrese Maxey was initially questionable for Philadelphia's Sunday night game against the Washington Wizards, he was cleared for action.
The Sixers will likely monitor the situation as they just played the Hawks a few days ago. But so far, it seems everybody who was on the court on Thursday night against Atlanta has avoided any COVID-related setbacks.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.