The Omicron strain has reached Gotham. The Brooklyn Nets are the latest professional sports team to be afflicted with an outbreak of COVID-19, with seven players on the health and safety protocols list, including superstar James Harden.

James Harden Brooklyn Nets COVID-19 protocols list
James Harden from the Brooklyn Nets argues a call with an official during a Dallas Mavericks game. He’s the latest member of the Nets to get flagged under the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. (Image: Tony Gutierrez/AP)

On Monday, forward Paul Millsap tested positive for COVID-19 and went into quarantine. On Tuesday morning, the Nets added four more players to the COVID list including LaMarcus Aldridge, James Johnson, DeAndre’ Bembry, and Jevon Carter. By Tuesday night, Bruce Brown and Harden joined the growing list.

The Nets have been playing without two starters. They lost sharpshooter Joe Harris earlier this season due to ankle surgery. Although 97% of the NBA is vaccinated, Kyrie Irving refused to get vaccinated and hasn’t been with the team this season.

Earlier in the day, the NBA postponed the next two games for the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls failed to contain a COVID-19 outbreak, which took out most of their team, including DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. The NBA is just one of numerous leagues struggling to contain COVID outbreaks. The NFL, NHL, and Premier League each saw a massive spike in cases over the last few days.

Betting the Nets

With Harden in quarantine, Kevin Durant will be a one-man show once again on Tuesday night when the Nets battle the Toronto Raptors. The other night in Toronto, Durant torched the Detroit Pistons for a season-high 51 points.

Durant almost missed Tuesday’s game due to a sore ankle. He probably would have gotten the night off if half the team wasn’t in COVID-19 protocol. Durant is one of only eight players available for the Nets against the Raptors, including Blake Griffin, Patty Mills, Nic Claxton, Kessler Edwards, Day’Ron Sharpe, Cam Thomas, and David Duke Jr.

The Nets (19-8) opened as a -7.5 favorite against the Raptors (13-14). When the news broke about Harden sitting out due to COVID, the line quickly dropped, eventually closing at -4 just before tip-off.  Despite a short-handed squad, the Nets will try to become the first team from the East to win 20 games this season.

Even without Irving suiting up at all this season, the Nets boast the best record in the Eastern Conference. The Nets are the consensus favorites to win the 2022 NBA Championship at +250 odds, according to the Circa Sportsbook in downtown Las Vegas.