NEW YORK — Just when you think things will get somewhat back to normal for the 76ers, they’re set to be without Doc Rivers.

The Sixers coach, who is vaccinated, tested positive for the coronavirus and has been placed in the NBA COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Assistant coach Dan Burke will serve as acting coach until Rivers returns. The Sixers were in Brooklyn to face the Nets Thursday night at the Barclays Center.

“I know Doc would rather be here for the guys,” Burke said before the game. “And he says he feels good. He’s not the least bit worried.

“If anybody just takes things in stride and keeps it real or keeps it relative, it’s Doc. That’s the lead we have to follow.”

Assistant coach Brian Adams and players Tyler Johnson and Myles Powell were also placed in protocols on Thursday for testing positive. The four joined assistant coach Sam Cassell and player Danny Green, who were already in protocols.

Jamie Young, Dwayne Jones, and Eric Hughes were the only coaches available to help Burke because of the COVID cases. Sixers assistant Dave Joerger is currently away from the team getting cancer treatment. This marked Burke’s third game serving as the acting head coach in his career. The other two times came with the Indiana Pacers. He coached against the Golden State Warriors (2018-19 season) and the Charlotte Hornets (2017-18 ).

“We got to be as business as usual as much as possible,” Burke said, “follow [Rivers’] lead. He’s building something here and we come do our job and follow up on it on that.”

COVID-19 safety

  • The omicron and delta variants are both circulating in the Philadelphia area and throughout the country as a whole. 
  • Even if you're vaccinated, it's still a good idea to use caution, including wearing a mask, and doing as much as possible outdoors. 
  • Beginning January 3, Philly's new vaccine mandate goes into effect in spaces where people are eating and drinking. Stay safe; get vaccinated.
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The Sixers’ backcourt also lacked bodies before Johnson and Powell were added to the roster.

Johnson has played in three games with the Sixers after signing a 10-day replacement player contract on Dec. 22. The combo guard is averaging 3.7 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 12.7 minutes. Meanwhile, Powell signed a two-way contract with the Sixers on Dec. 19. The guard averaged 1.5 points and 6.0 minutes in his two appearances.

» READ MORE: Doc Rivers expressed his displeasure, but that doesn’t change the Sixers’ trend of playing down to undermanned teams | Keith Pompey

This influx of positive tests comes one day after Andre Drummond returned to practice after clearing protocols on Monday, and the same day that Shake Milton was deemed healthy enough to play.

The NBA tests players, coaches, and staff members daily. Asymptomatic fully vaccinated coaches and players can clear protocols after six days if COVID testing shows they’re no longer at risk of being infected.

An individual can still test out of protocols with two negative results 24 hours apart.

Rivers becomes the sixth NBA head coach placed in protocols, joining Michael Malone (Denver Nuggets), Monty Williams (Phoenix Suns), Billy Donovan (Chicago Bulls), Frank Vogel (Los Angeles Lakers), Chauncey Billups (Portland Trail Blazers), and Mark Daigneault (Oklahoma City Thunder).

After their contest in Brooklyn, the Sixers will have two games in the next six days. They’ll host the Houston Rockets on Monday before playing the Orlando Magic on the road Wednesday.

» READ MORE: Sixers center Andre Drummond practiced Wednesday after clearing the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols

The Sixers hired Rivers before the start of last season. He has a combined 68-39 record in Philly. He is also the league’s 10th winningest coach with a record of 1,011-720 over 22-plus seasons with the Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers, and Sixers.