Was the Raptors’ sudden return to play inconsistent with the NBA’s health and safety protocols?

Photo credit: Scott Audette/NBAE via Getty Images

The Toronto Raptors finally got back to some normalcy on Wednesday night against the Detroit Pistons, when several key players returned from the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

During the previous seven games, the Raptors had a game postponed against the Chicago Bulls (as well as a game against the Pistons that was played the next day) and they were also forced to play five straight games without Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Patrick McCaw, and Malachi Flynn.

It remains unclear how many Raptors players tested positive for COVID-19, but VanVleet confirmed that he did indeed test positive and he’s very grateful to be back with the team and feeling healthy again.

A league-wide dilemma

Just about every team in the NBA has had someone on their roster enter the league’s health and safety protocols. The Raptors were one of the last teams in the league to get hit by a coronavirus outbreak among their players.

Since the beginning of the season, there have been more than 30 games postponed due to the league’s health and safety protocols. The tough start to the season even forced the league and the players association to come to an agreement on tighter health and safety measures.

One of the many unfortunate parts about the Raptors’ COVID-19 outbreak was the timing of when it happened. The Raptors were finally on a roll after a tough start to the season and they will have to dig themselves out of a hole once again to get back into playoff contention.  

Inconsistencies in the protocols?

While some Raptors fans may be trying to point out some inconsistency in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the circumstances the Raptors have been forced to play under are not unheard of this season.

On January 9th, the Philadelphia 76ers still played a matchup against the Denver Nuggets despite only having eight players available for the game.

After having three games postponed from January 10th–13th, the Boston Celtics had to return to play with seven players out due to health and safety protocols.

What is interesting to note is that since these matchups earlier in the year, the NBA has looked to keep teams with coronavirus outbreaks on their team out of the league rotation for a bit.

The San Antonio Spurs missed four straight games and the Memphis Grizzlies missed five games in a row earlier this season because of several players entering COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

Also, the Washington Wizards missed a stretch of six straight games from January 11th–22nd due to a COVID-19 outbreak on the team.

Can’t catch a break

The Celtics and 76ers were both forced to play games with so many players out due to the league’s protocols early in the season. But since then, teams like the Spurs, Grizzlies, and Wizards had four or more of their games postponed.

When you look at the fact that the Raptors had five of their players — and even some of their coaching staff — missing games while under the league’s protocols, it’s puzzling trying to understand why they only had one game postponed to a significantly later date, especially this late in the season.

The Raptors will hopefully have OG Anunoby back for Friday’s game against the Utah Jazz. Nothing has been easy for the Raptors this season and the league sure isn’t giving them any slack.

Still, Toronto is only two and a half games out of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Fans and teams around the league know how resilient this team is and we expect them to continue to scratch and claw their way back no matter what.

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