The Nets' chances to do much damage in the NBA bubble weren't all too high to begin with, given the fact that Kevin Durant's injury will continue to keep him sidelined, as it has the entire season, and given that Kyrie Irving was one of the most adamant critics of the resumed season in addition to dealing with injuries of his own. But things went downhill from there.
After Spencer Dinwiddie tested positive for coronavirus on two separate occasions, the guard decided to opt out of the resumed season, effectively removing the team's leading passer and second leading scorer, behind Irving. DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince and Wilson Chandler also opted out for various reasons.
The Nets made some waves, albeit relatively small ones, by signing veterans Jamal Crawford and Michael Beasley to help replace Dinwiddie and Jordan. Though Crawford remains healthy and ready to play, it was revealed on Tuesday that Beasley tested positive and left the bubble, leaving his status in question.
To recap: No Durant. No Irving. No Dinwiddie. No Jordan. No Prince. No Chandler. No Beasley (potentially). No Nicolas Claxton, as well, whose injuries will keep him out.
And yet, Shaquille O'Neal not only likes the Nets to retain their playoff spot over the Wizards and Magic, but he likes them to advance past the first round of postseason competition.
"You heard it here first," Shaq said on Tuesday's NBA on TNT. "Listen guys, because there's no home-court advantage and they're playing in the ballroom, Brooklyn will advance to the second round. You heard it here first."
The laughter from Dwyane Wade and host Adam Lefkoe started immediately, but recently retired Nets legend Vince Carter wanted to clarify what Shaq had said.
"Who do they beat to get into the second round?" Carter asked, to which Shaq answered they'll beat whoever they want. And that's what got Carter laughing.
"With no clear-cut home-court advantage, emotions are going to be low and everybody knows that they don't have certain guys... that's the toughest team to play, a team that you're not up for," Shaq said.
Two-time WNBA MVP and NBA on TNT correspondent Candace Parker also wasn't buying into Shaq's take, going so far as to ask The Big Aristotle -- a nickname that would suggest logic and wisdom -- to name five players on the Nets roster.
Shaq ignored the request though, reiterating that everyone will underestimate Brooklyn in the bubble.
Is it possible? Definitely, especially in this strange scenario. Is it probable? I don't think so.
Every single one of the Nets' 20 most used five-man combinations in the 2019-2020 season contains one of the aforementioned opt-out players. Still, the Nets have a solid core in Caris LeVert (17.7 points per game), Jarrett Allen (10.6 points, 9.5 rebounds per game) and Joe Harris (13.9 points per game). Will it be enough to take down top teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, the Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers, three teams against which the Nets posted a 2-7 record?
According to Shaq, that answer is yes.