The NBA postponed Friday’s game between the Washington Wizards and the Milwaukee Bucks, marking the sixth straight Wizards contest to be pushed to a later date as the franchise deals with a COVID-19 outbreak.
The Wizards returned to practice Wednesday with only eight healthy players. The team was set to travel to Milwaukee on Thursday, but star Bradley Beal expressed skepticism that the game should go on as played. The Wizards have not played since Jan. 11 and have seen six players test positive for the virus.
Beal said the Wizards would not have enough time to prepare for Friday’s game, noting that the healthy players needed time to work on their conditioning since they’ve been out of the gym for more than a week.
“That alters guys rhythm, shape — that’s just a recipe for injury honestly. We’re fighting the league on it,” Beal told reporters.
Coach Scott Brooks said Washington had a “very light” practice in the team’s return to the court.
The Wizards have six players unavailable due to the league’s health and safety protocols: Guard Troy Brown Jr., forward Rui Hachimura, forward Davis Bertans, forward Deni Avdija, guard Ish Smith and center Mortiz Wagner. Two others — Russell Westbrook (quad) and Thomas Bryant (ACL) — are also out because of injury.
The NBA‘s latest postponement marks the 17th game of the season to be rescheduled due to COVID. A makeup date has not been yet been announced.
If the Wizards can continue to practice and stay healthy, the team’s next scheduled game is set to take place on Sunday, Jan. 24 in San Antonio against the Spurs.
“The game is being postponed due to the number of unavailable players for the Wizards, contact tracing for other players on their roster, and the length of time preceding the game during which the team was unable to practice,” the NBA said in a statement.