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The Golden State Warriors are all set to play the Phoenix Suns on Christmas day. Not much was thought of the game when the schedule came out — just another holiday game between two quality teams — but now it’s the marquee game of the most exciting day on the NBA’s schedule.
They’ve been the two best teams in the league all year long, going back and forth in the standings. The Warriors have looked like the championship favorites as they wait to welcome Klay Thompson back, and the Suns rattled off an 18-game winning streak, the longest the league has seen in quite a while.
On top of all that, it’s their third meetup of the season, with each team tallying one win.
So all things considered, it should be a great game.
But some negativity hangs over it, as the league has been hit very hard by the coronavirus over the last two weeks. Dozens of players have been entering the league’s health and safety protocols in recent days, with the league even making a roster exception to allow teams to field the minimum number of players.
The Warriors have three players — Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins, and Damion Lee — sidelined by the health and safety protocols, and the slate of Christmas games is in risk of losing stars such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Luka Dončić, and Trae Young.
All of that begs the question: should the NBA still be playing games?
Fans are torn on the subject. According to the latest SB Nation Reacts poll, NBA fans are split on whether the league should resume as normal, hit the pause button, or shut things down.
The NBA has taken a few small actions this season to combat the outbreaks, from the aforementioned roster expansions to strict policies regarding vaccinations, testing, and masks. They’ve yet to take any larger actions such as postponements (other than a few games that simply didn’t have enough players), leading fans to be split straight down the middle on the job the league is doing.
This certainly isn’t the story the league was hoping for this year, but it’s undeniably the one they have to work with.