And the Christmas lineup, chosen by the NBA months ago, seemed a lot brighter than this one.
There’s Atlanta in New York, a rematch of a playoff series from last season. Boston in Milwaukee, the traditional Christmas appearance as part of the reigning NBA champions benefit package. Golden State in Phoenix, a clash between perhaps the top two teams in the league so far this season. Brooklyn at the Lakers, a game many thought was a potential preview of the NBA Finals a few months ago. And Dallas in Utah, which will give Rudy Gobert fans in France and Luka Doncic fans in Slovenia something to watch at 4.30am on a Sunday.
Right now, neither the Hawks nor the Knicks would be playoff teams. The Celtics, Mavericks, and Lakers all hover around 0.500. Doncic suffers from ankle pain, which could hamper his availability for Christmas. Davis won’t play for the Lakers until the end of January, at the earliest, with a knee problem. Irving has yet to play for Brooklyn this season.
“We are all in uncertainty,” said Williams.
There will certainly be arguments made by some to suggest that the league should suspend or postpone more games, as the number of players currently facing virus issues is huge – 15% of the league, give or take. When Gobert tested positive on March 11, 2020, the league closed for four months. It’s obviously a very different world now and a very different NBA, with 97% of players vaccinated and over 60% boosted.