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Shaquille O’Neal drops bold prediction for Nets in Orlando bubble

Shaquille O'Neal, Nets, NBA

The Brooklyn Nets will have a shortage of manpower once the season resumes in Orlando on July 30, but Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal still believes in the team’s chances.

The Diesel bared an extremely bold (not to mention outlandish) claim in a TNT segment on Tuesday, saying that the Nets will win their first-round match-up and advance to the Eastern Conference semis come playoff time.

“Because there’s no home-court advantage and they will be playing in the ballroom, Brooklyn will advance to the second round. You heard it here first,” Shaq said to the panel, which included fellow retired players Dwyane Wade and Vince Carter, as well as Candace Parker and Jared Greenberg.

The four-time NBA champion doubled-down on his prediction by explaining that the absence of home-court advantage makes it a lot harder for higher-seeded teams to win.

“With no clear-cut home-court advantage, emotions are going to be low and everybody knows they don’t have certain guys. That’s the toughest team to play, a team that you’re up for,” Shaq added.

Even before the Nets entered the bubble, its two superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving already confirmed that they won’t be returning from their injuries. Swingman Wilson Chandler has also begged off citing family concerns, while DeAndre Jordan did the same after testing positive for COVID-19.

Their woes didn’t end there, as the team’s top scorer Spencer Dinwiddie and newly-signed forward Michael Beasley also tested positive. Dinwiddie will sit out the rest of the season, while Beasley’s status remains unclear as of the moment.

Brooklyn still does have two young stars in Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, while the signing of Jamal Crawford will also give them a big boost.

Shaquille O’Neal’s Paul Pierce-like prediction does carry some valid points. However, it’s still hard to agree with him on this one. The Nets currently hold the seventh seed with a 30-34 slate and is still not guaranteed a spot, with the Orlando Magic (30-35) and Washington Wizards (24-40) trailing closely behind.

The team will likely face the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks or the defending champions Toronto Raptors in the first round. Even with a full roster, that’s one tough match-up for the Nets.