Leading up to the Philadelphia 76ers' afternoon matchup against the Denver Nuggets last Saturday, the game's status was up in the air. As the Sixers had seven players on the injury report that were questionable due to health and safety protocol and four who were ruled out for different reasons, Philly had just six healthy players.
Hours before tip-off, three players were cleared for action -- but two more were ruled out for injury-related reasons. With just seven players available, one less than the NBA's required eight-man minimum, Saturday's game technically should've been postponed to a later date -- but the league didn't follow through.
Instead, the Sixers were convinced to suit up Mike Scott, who was listed as out on the injury report on the night before the game. With that, the Sixers had eight players on the bench, even though Mike Scott didn't see the floor for a single second.
The Sixers disagreed with the decision, but they also didn't complain. It wasn't until Sunday's series of events when Philly really felt slighted. A matchup between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat was postponed as the Heat had just seven players available to play. That led to Joel Embiid tweeting out the following.
On Monday, several other games got canceled as well. At this point, five games have been postponed. None of them involved the Sixers, who remain depleted. While Philly had enough players to meet the minimum eight-man requirement over the last two matchups, last Saturday's events still left a bad taste in the 76ers' mouths.
"The other night, we were not happy with the way that went down," Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said on Monday in regards to last Saturday's game. "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."
Joel Embiid, who cryptically called out the league via Twitter over the weekend, finally had a chance to fully address the situation on Tuesday following his team's win over the Miami Heat. To no surprise, Embiid was also unhappy with the way everything unfolded.
"It just seems like every other game keeps getting canceled, but us, I guess the league just keeps making us play," Embiid stated. "There's really no explanation behind it -- especially the Denver game when we had to dress an injured player just to make sure we had enough players to be able to compete. Other teams, they haven't had that many players, and the league hasn't made any of them dress an injured player just to make sure that there's a game going on. So, it's unfortunate."
While Embiid and the Sixers are frustrated -- there's been a consistent message in their locker room that excuses will not be tolerated. Rivers talked about it on Monday, and so did Sixers rookie Tyrese Maxey. On Tuesday, Embiid made it clear once more.
"It's the next-man-up. . . Can't complain about it," Embiid explained. "Wins still count, losses still count. We need to get all of these wins and keep fighting until those guys are back, and that's our job." Unfortunately, the Sixers have gone 1-2 since they lost a notable portion of their roster due to health concerns. But with an inspiring win on Tuesday, Embiid might've lit a fire under his undermanned team.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_