The Brooklyn Nets just shocked the bubble with the largest NBA upset point spread-wise since 1993.
The Nets, who closed as consensus 19-point underdogs, defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 119-116 on Tuesday in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, it’s the largest upset point spreadwise since the Dallas Mavericks beat the Seattle SuperSonics as 19.5-point underdogs on April 6, 1993.
The Bucks were looking to lock up the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs but still elected to rest some starters down the stretch against a depleted Brooklyn roster.
In addition to injured stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan and Taurean Prince each opted out of the conclusion of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic, and likely would-be starters Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert were ruled out ahead of Tuesday’s matinee.
Garrett Temple was the only Brooklyn starter with more than four starts this season. The other four starters — Lance Thomas, Rodions Kurucs, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Tyler Johnson — combined to start seven games this season.
“I totally do believe in momentum and the momentum of keeping your spirit in check,” Nets interim coach Jacque Vaughn said. “We talked about as a group, the symbolism of bamboo, being extremely resilient and extremely flexible and adaptable, and tonight was another example. We had to be all of those three things with a different lineup. And so overall, that concept has stayed and hopefully continues.”
Brooklyn’s makeshift roster resulted in the 19-point spread, the largest line since the 2017-18 season when the Rockets were 19-point favorites against the New York Knicks. Still, the underdog Nets took a 94-88 lead into the fourth quarter and held on with Temple hitting a jumper with 7.3 seconds left to help finish off the Bucks.
“It’s very big for us,” Temple said. “The fact that we were winning with their [starting] group [in] — without Brook [Lopez] obviously, without Wes [Matthews] — but they have a group that can win a lot of games. We were winning in the first half. Giannis [Antetokounmpo] looked like he was out there working out at halftime expecting to go in, so whatever happened, we won the game with the people we had and they had and they played so it’s very big for us, our confidence — we may see them in the first round so it’s something we were coming into, making sure we make a statement.”
Nets guard Chris Chiozza, who finished with 10 points and 10 assists in 31 minutes, said he didn’t think the Bucks overlooked the Nets — he just thought his young team played a better game.
“I’m sure a lot of people wasn’t expecting us to be having a close game,” Chiozza said. “In the NBA, they’re one of the better teams, so they know they can’t come out and just overlook other teams’ best shot every night. I think we just played a great game.”
In the past 30 seasons, teams favored by 19 or more were 49-2 straight-up entering Tuesday’s game.
There were a few believers in Brooklyn at the betting windows, but not many. Sportsbook operator BetMGM reported taking a $600 money-line bet on the Nets at 13-1 odds, resulting in a $7,800 profit. The majority of the action was on the Bucks to win straight-up.
At sportsbook PointsBet, 94% of the money bet on the moneyline was on the Bucks. PointsBet communications director Patrick Eichner told ESPN that there were a “significant number” of $1,000 money-line bets on Milwaukee at -3,000 odds. The $1,000 bets would have won just over $32 each.
ESPN’s Nick Friedell and Stats & Information researcher Ryan Satsky contributed to this report.