In sport, there are just some things that aren’t meant to happen.
The sportsbook odds tell us how a sporting event should pan out, and more often than not they get it spot on.
But occasionally things happen that simply cannot be foreseen, and the Milwaukee Bucks’ 116-119 defeat to the Brooklyn Nets is firmly in that category.
The frustrations of the evening were encapsulated by the furious reaction of Giannis Antetokounmpo to being dumped on the court by Nets rookie Donta Hall. The Greek star’s foul-mouthed outburst, in which he made some serious threats to his opponent, were perhaps as much embarrassment at the result as anything else.
Against all the odds, the already-short-handed Nets sat their best three players and still came out to beat the #1 seed Bucks 119-116.
TLC led all scorers with 26 points, Chris Chiozza had his first double-double and Justin Anderson put Giannis on a poster.
📷 David Dow pic.twitter.com/R0Llbgimtx
— 𝙐𝙆 𝙉𝙚𝙩𝙨 𝙁𝙖𝙣𝙨 🇬🇧⚫⚪😷 (@UKNetsFans) August 5, 2020
And with good reason: as far as the sportsbooks’ points spreads are concerned, the Nets – who were without many of their best players – were given a +19 point line against the mighty Bucks, and in claiming victory they secured the biggest shock win in the NBA since 1995.
What impact has the result had on the 2019-20 outright winner NBA betting odds? Well, it won’t stop the Bucks from reaching the postseason, but their chance of winning the Championship series has been edged out to +2500 in the wake of their humbling.
So where does the Bucks being downed by the Nets stack up on the list of the greatest upsets in NBA history?
Dallas Mavericks (+19.5) vs Seattle Supersonics, 1993
The Mavericks were beyond hapless in 1993-94, losing 23 of their first 24 games of the season including a 20-game streak without a win. By the end of January, they were sat with a wretched 3-40 record.
And so they weren’t given much of a hope against a Seattle Supersonics outfit who many had predicted to challenge the Chicago Bulls for the Championship ring. The Mavericks embarked on another 17-game losing streak in February and March, and so this April date was only ever likely to go one way – the Sonics were handed a -19.5 point line by the sportsbooks, which is the widest margin of the modern era.
You can almost guess what happened next – the Mavericks wrapped up a 109-107 win to claim arguably the biggest shock victory in the history of the NBA.
Denver Nuggets (+17) vs Washington Wizards, 1997
In 1997-98, the Denver Nuggets were on the brink of the worst season in NBA history. In the end, they won eleven games – the third-worst tally of all-time, and after 40 games they boasted a 2-38 record.
Hence why they were so unfancied by the sportsbooks against the Washington Wizards, who in Rod Strickland had the assist king of the NBA.
No matter – the Nuggets made a mockery of their +17 line to win 106-104, which to say that was a shock would be an almighty understatement. They had gone down to the Wizards 96-120 just a matter of weeks beforehand!
LA Lakers (+17) vs Golden State Warriors, 2015
What can you say about the LA Lakers in 2014-15? They delivered the first 60-loss season in the franchise’s history, and could only watch on as Kobe Bryant suffered a campaign-ending injury in January plus the retirement of Steve Nash.
The Golden State Warriors, meanwhile, dominated the Western Conference – taking the spoils by eleven wins, before going on to down the Cavs in the Finals.
So there weren’t many takers for the +17 point line on the Lakers when these two met on December 23, 2014, but those that did enjoyed an early Yuletide gift as the Lakers ran in scarcely believable 115-105 winners.
But few underdog stories in the NBA can quite match what the Nets achieved in August.