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The rules for cover state:

A target with half cover has a +2 bonus to AC and Dexterity saving throws.

Let's say a wizard casts flaming sphere. They can then move the sphere as a bonus action to ram it into an opponent. If there is cover in between the wizard and the target, but there are no obstacles between the sphere and the target, does the target benefit from the +2 bonus to the Dexterity saving throw from half-cover?

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Cover respects the point of origin of the effect.

The rules for cover say (emphasis mine):

A target can benefit from cover only when an attack or other effect originates on the opposite side of the cover.

Flaming sphere's area of effect is

A 5-foot-diameter sphere of fire [...]

The rules of spherical areas of effect say:

You select a sphere's point of origin, and the sphere extends outward from that point. The sphere's size is expressed as a radius in feet that extends from the point.

So cover bonuses are determined by the target's position relative to the center of the sphere.

Therefore, if no obstacle is between the target and the center of the sphere, the target gets no bonuses from cover.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Also potentially notable in the case of Flaming Sphere: the sphere can be directed over barriers up to 5 feet tall, so anything anything short of full cover is probably not tall enough to stop it anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan C. Thompson Aug 20 '20 at 0:40

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