The Philadelphia 76ers are one of a handful of teams currently lacking roster depth as they've been hit with COVID-19. While starting shooting guard Seth Curry is the only member of the team to test positive, four players have been ruled out and forced into quarantine, while the team is still missing multiple players to injuries.
After arriving back in Philly from Brooklyn in the middle of Friday night/early Saturday morning, the 76ers weren't sure if they would meet the league's required eight-man minimum of available players as they only had six guys healthy and ready to roll.
By Saturday afternoon, Joel Embiid, Paul Reed, and Danny Green cleared COVID-19 protocol, which gave the Sixers nine available players ahead of their matchup against the Denver Nuggets. But shortly after those three cleared protocols, the Sixers ruled Embiid out due to back stiffness -- and they ruled Ben Simmons out due to stiffness and swelling in the knee.
Without Simmons and Embiid, the Sixers had just seven players available. Instead of postponing the matchup, though, the league convinced the Sixers to activate an injured Mike Scott, so they met the eight-man minimum.
"I can tell you now there's no way I'm going to play him," said Sixers head coach Doc Rivers in regards to Scott before Saturday's game. "I just don't think he should play. So, you could make a case that we have seven bodies to throw [out there]."
As expected, Rivers rolled with just a seven-man rotation on Saturday in the loss against the Nuggets. While playing the matchup extremely shorthanded wasn't in the Sixers' best interest, they had no other options as the league made it clear they wanted to avoid postponing the matchup.
Unfortunately for Philly, they had to watch other teams in the same situation with different results afterward. On Sunday, the matchup between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat was in danger of getting postponed. As the Heat just failed to meet the eight-man minimum hours before tip-off, the NBA postponed the matchup.
Then on Monday, the same happened to the matchup between the Dallas Mavericks and the Charlotte Hornets. The Sixers had enough players to trot out on the floor on Monday night against the Atlanta Hawks, but they still didn't have enough to make it a competitive matchup.
Following the tough loss on the road, 76ers head coach Doc Rivers didn't express his opinion on other games around the league getting postponed, but he did recall his frustrations from Saturday afternoon as the 76ers were forced to play.
"We had enough guys [on Monday], I would say that -- but the other night, we were not happy with the way that went down," Rivers said. "We really only had seven guys, and the number is eight. You know, we don't understand why we played that game. But listen, I'm just a coach. I'm going to show up and do what they tell me to do, for the most part."
Although he's frustrated with the way everything went down on Saturday, Rivers doesn't expect anybody around the league to feel bad for the Sixers. As several teams are in a similar position, and others could join the unfortunate trend later on down the line, the Sixers understand these setbacks are just going to be a part of the game this year. Saturday's outcome didn't fall in Philly's favor, but perhaps everything that happens this early on is just one large learning experience for the league.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_