COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on locker rooms across the NBA, and the Toronto Raptors are the latest team to face significant setbacks. Their last two games were postponed, and when they return to the court on Wednesday night against the Pistons they'll be seriously shorthanded.
Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Malachi Flynn and Patrick McCaw will all be out due to the league's health and safety protocols. That's bad enough, but they'll also be without coach Nick Nurse and five other members of the coaching staff. Assistant coach Sergio Scariolo will move to the front of the bench, just as he did earlier in this process when Nurse was out.
If there's a bit of good news, it's that the Raptors have had "multiple days of no new cases" according to GM Bobby Webster. Still, he admitted it's been a challenging period for the team, and not just from a basketball perspective.
"It's been a tough couple of days. To get to here and be able to practice, we had to clear a number of hurdles.
"It's what you can imagine. It's the emotional stress of having colleagues that potentially, obviously, can be sick. The enormous amount of stress everyone feels, everyone's walking a bit on eggshells here in the locker room and you can't necessarily be as friendly. ... The basketball will go on, we'll play the games, but just to maintain everybody's belonging and familiarity is really important."
The Raptors have not played since Feb. 26 against the Houston Rockets. Since then, their games against the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons were postponed. Wednesday's game against the Pistons is a make-up of that game. At this point, it's not clear when the game against the Bulls will be rescheduled.
Ahead of the season, the league only released the first half of the schedule in order to create flexibility in the inevitable event games had to be moved. But late last month they announced the second half of the schedule and most of that wiggle room is now gone. The Raptors' contests are the first to be postponed since the league put out the rest of the schedule.