NBA: 'Capping COVID-19

by Ben Burns

It's always been tricky to accurately predict NBA starting lineups. Teams are notorious for listing players as "game-time decisions."  They allow the player to participate in pregame warmups and assess how he feels. The Omicron variant has made things even more difficult. Players are shuffling in and out of the lineup more than ever before. That makes knowing who's available very important. Let's take a look at some of the teams currently dealing with "COVID-19 issues." 

Atlanta Hawks:
With 12 players in COVID health and safety protocols, the Hawks have been especially hard hit by the virus. Not surprisingly, it's had a major impact. The Hawks enter their New Year's Eve game with an 0-3 SU/ATS record their last three games and a 1-5 SU/ATS mark their last six. They should return to health early in 2022. Once that's the case, I won't be surprised if they go on a winning streak.

Toronto Raptors
Playing with an extremely Covid-depleted lineup, the Raptors lost by 45 points on Boxing Day. Things change quickly in today's world though. Less than a week later, they've got most of their players back and find themselves favored against the the Clippers, a team dealing with its own "quarantine list." Also, prior to Christmas, the Raptors benefitted when the Warriors decided to leave all their stars at home, rather than have them cross the border. 

Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers are 0-3 SU/ATS their last three games, entering Friday's game vs. the Lakers. Playing without a handful of players, out on the quarantine list, hasn't helped. Relief will come "next year." 

Washington Wizards
It's critical to pay attention to when key players are scheduled to return. The Wizards were off back-to-back losses while dealing with some missing stars. However, all signs indicated that Beal would return for their 12/30 game against Cleveland. He did. Suddenly, arguably, the healthier team, led by Beal's 29 points, the Wizards won by double-digits. 

I could go on, as almost every team is affected. The list will change though. Every day. So, you'll need to do your own research, in order to stay current.

Of course, nobody wants things to be this way. However, for the time being, this is the way of the world. Just as we've needed to adapt to the world, we need to adjust our handicapping. For me, I find that I'm often making my NBA plays a little later in the day. This allows me more time to read as much as I can about who is expected to play, while also allowing more time for information to become available. 

Happy New Year everyone. Best of luck to us all in 2022. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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