Lots has been made of how short handed the Brooklyn Nets were heading into the bubble in Orlando. Already sans superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the further omissions of DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie (among others), meant that a composite squad of mostly fringe starters and two-way players would have to battle the league’s best en-route to the playoffs.
Then, the starting lineups for their game against the mighty formidable Milwaukee Bucks were announced, and it was revealed that the Nets had decided to sit Caris Levert, Jarrett Allen and Joe Harris – their three best players in the bubble.
With those factors in mind, it made sense for there to be some serious disparity in the betting markets before tip-off. However, the 18.5 point spread offered to punters was… historically big.
As it happened, the Nets came out of the blocks with what seemed like a point to prove. They led at the end of the first quarter, and kept their foot down into halftime, holding an eight point advantage at the break. For most spectators, it reeked of a second half situation where Milwaukee would switch on and start running away with the contest – but the plucky Nets outfit simply could not be shaken off.
Garrett Temple was a defensive nightmare. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot shot lights out from beyond the arc, and back-up point guard Chris Chiozza came up with good look after good look as Brooklyn held on to win 119-116.
In the wash, the 18.5 spread that the Nets began the game with was covered, and some. According to ESPN Stats and Info, it was the single largest NBA upset (with reference to the points spread) in 27 years, when the Mavs downed the Seattle Supersonics starting with a 19.5 point handicap on the line.
For your next trivia night – if you were wondering what the largest pre-tip point spread in NBA history is, you’d have to look back to 2008, when the Miami Heat were 22.5 point underdogs against a Ray Allen-led Boston Celtics outfit. The Celtics won that night by 26.