No NBA team was as impacted by COVID-19 as the Brooklyn Nets. Kevin Durant, and three unnamed players tested positive back in March, shortly after the season was shut down, while Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan and Taurean Prince all got the illness later in the summer. Even Michael Beasley, whom they signed as a replacement player, ended up testing positive and leaving the bubble.
As a result of the pandemic, and other injuries, the Nets made their way to Disney World looking nothing like the team that started the season. Durant, Dinwiddie, Jordan, Prince, Kyrie Irving, Wilson Chandler and Nic Claxton were all not with the team, and they had to sign a number of replacement players, including Jamal Crawford and Tyler Johnson.
Expectations were understandably pretty low for them, but they’re now 2-1 in Orlando and made some history in the process. Heading into Tuesday’s matchup with the Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks, they were 18.5-point underdogs, a line you’d see more in football than basketball. But they didn’t care about the odds, and thanks to 26 points from Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, the Nets beat the Bucks, 119-116.
That goes down as the biggest upset win, at least based on the spread, since the Dallas Mavericks beat the Seattle SuperSonics as 19.5-point underdogs back in 1993. On that night, Jim Jackson went for 18 points, and eight Mavericks scored in double figures to take down Gary Payton and Co.
It’s worth noting that Brook Lopez was out for the Bucks, and Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton didn’t play in the second half. If Vegas had known that was the Bucks’ plan, the line likely wouldn’t have been quite as high. Even still, this was an incredible win for the Nets, as they weren’t at full strength either. Besides the players not in Orlando, they were also without Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert and Joe Harris for this game.
Depending on what happens with the battle for the seventh seed in the East, we could see this matchup in the first round of the playoffs later this month. If they do end up seeing each other, it’s safe to say those games wouldn’t go quite as well for the Nets.