It's not often that NBA players admit that their team got lucky to beat another team. However, the 2021 Milwaukee Bucks-Brooklyn Nets Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup spawned some unusual circumstances.

Former Bucks reserve Justin Jackson openly admitted that the Nets would've won that series if they were healthy, via the Run Your Race podcast.

“If James Harden and Kyrie Irving do not get hurt, they lowkey sweep us when I was with the Bucks,” Jackson admitted. “They beat us by 40 the first two games in Brooklyn…When I tell you it was so bad, I had my car shipped back home when i got back home from Brooklyn, because I was like ‘hey look, I want my car to be there when I get there after these next two games.' It was that bad. I'm talkin' bout like, there was nothing we could do.”

One of the appealing things about NBA player-hosted podcasts is hearing these types of funny stories. Jackson's car shipping saga isn't something a player would normally give away in a standard, media-trained interview.

There's no denying that the “Big Three” of Durant, Irving, and Harden were lethal when they were together. However, the issue was that they rarely stayed on the floor at the same time.

Would the Nets have won the NBA Finals had they stayed healthy in 2021?

Thunder center Al Horford (42) and forward Justin Jackson (44) celebrate after Jackson hit a three point basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Oklahoma City won 114-109.
© Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

“And then injuries happened. Period. The crazy thing is, James got hurt,” Jackson continued. “He got hurt the first game, and they still beat us by 40 the second game. That's what's crazy about it. Then we go to Brooklyn, and Ky- it looked like they were still in charge of the series. Ky rolls his ankle, and it's like, ‘we actually might have a chance now.' And yo, we went to Game 7. If KD's shoe was one size smaller, we lose it.”

Jackson, of course, was referencing Durant's game-tying fadeaway jumper to end regulation in Game 7. His toe infamously stepped on the three-point line, preventing Brooklyn from winning the series.

“So okay, yes. Woulda, coulda, shoulda, if that team was healthy, they were winning the entire thing,” Jackson concluded. “I don't care what anybody says. But, sports happen. Injuries happen. It's not their fault that they got hurt. You see what I'm saying? So now everybody's like, ‘ah, they didn't give it enough time, they didn't do this, they didn't do that.' Maybe that was their window.”

While it's usually far-fetched to assume a certain team would've won the Finals if they had stayed healthy, it makes sense in this case. The Nets embarrassed Milwaukee on the road in the first two games, when Durant had either both or one of his co-stars helping out. Since the Bucks were the eventual champions, one could use the transitive property to determine who could've won in an alternate universe.

Although this podcast episode was in 2023, it's still being talked about. An X account named @BGNHoops pulled it up, and @MoeSlatty said “Never seen a team get lucky as the Bucks did this series.”

While Bucks fans may be sour over their injury luck this season, they should remember that it could just be the universe evening things out three years later.