Nobody ever pays much attention to the Indiana Pacers until they have to.
- They are not sexy
- They are decades removed from Reggie Miller
- They fly so far under the radar that NBA folks ignore them … to the point that they are completely off the radar as July gets ready to turn into August
Here’s why you should be paying attention
While the summer has been moving along, Indiana’s championship odds dropped from +8000 to +4000 … one of the most significant jumps for teams that have not acquired the likes of Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook, etc. They’ve since settled at around +5000 at most books, including DraftKings Sportsbook in New Jersey.
Since free agency opened in late June, Indiana signed Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb, and traded for T.J. Warren from the Phoenix Suns.
They also signed T.J. McConnell this week. Fans of Patrick Beverley will appreciate this signing.
“Fifty to one?” longtime team broadcaster Marl Boyle asked TheLines during a phone interview. “If I were inclined to bet, and I am not so inclined, I would have to say 50-1 is a pretty good bet.”
Boyle went on to ask about odds on the Jazz, Nuggets and some other teams that have had strong offseasons, and he wondered who had the longest odds on the board (the Suns, Knicks, Hawks, Cavs, Wizards, Grizzlies and Hornets are all at 500-1.).
After a little more discussion, he couldn’t help but wonder: If the East is going to be as weak as it appears aside from Milwaukee and Philadelphia, why wouldn’t a sharp gambler go with a team that has made major changes in the offseason but will still put a playoff team on the floor?
“The big thing is the change of four starters, and the fact that they are going to play Myles Turner and Domantis Sabonis together at the same time,” Boyle told TheLines. “The coaching staff believes it will work, but when they go against teams that have opposing bigs who play outside, who is going to go outside and defend that player? If it is Myles, that takes him away from the basket where he is at his best defensively.”
The Pacers lost starters Bojan Bogdanovic (signed with Utah as a free agent), Darren Collison (retired for religious reasons), Thaddeus Young (signed with Chicago as a free agent), Wesley Mathews (signed with Milwaukee as a free agent) and Tyreke Evans (banned from the NBA for failing a drug test.)
Is money coming in on the Pacers?
“We got an initial wave when they were 80-1 because they were a popular pick from the East after Kawhi Leonard left the Raptors and folks were looking for a value bet aside from Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Boston,” said Jeff Sherman of the Westgate Superbook. “We dropped them to 60-1, then to 40-1, then raised it back to 50-1.
“It’s weird, because they have the same projected win total as Toronto, and we’ve moved Toronto all the way to 100-1 and have not taken a single ticket on them since they were 80-1.”
The legalized U.S. sports gambling market keeps adjusting as more and more states come online, and this summer marked the first time that over/under win totals were posted even before free agency began.
“Defensively, they are going to miss Thad and Cory Joseph,” said Indianapolis Stat beat writer J. Michael Falgoust. “But I think people are sleeping on them. “Getting Jeremy Lamb was huge because he can play the 2-3, and when Oladipo comes back they will have a guy who can e another offensive weapon — which they didn’t have last season, especially when Victory was hurt.
“But losing Thad was huge. He was an amazing locker room voice … the guy who would take a charge or do whatever it takes to get a win.”
As of Monday night, DraftKings still had the Pacers listed at +5000 and FanDuel Sportsbook had them on the board at +4900.
Why Indiana offers value
Look, when you are trying to forecast what will happen a year from now, Rule No. 1 is to expect the unexpected. Yes, the Bucks look like the class of the East … but Khris Middleton will be going to China with Team USA, and players coming off Team USA summers tend to be worn down by the time training camp starts. If Milwaukee loses him (and remember, they already lost a key cog in Brogdon), Giannis Antetokounmpo will not have enough around him to make it through three rounds in the East.
With Philly, Joel Embiid now has a nice backup in Al Horford. But Embiid is notoriously emotionally driven, Ben Simmons will never learn how to make a free throw, and there were chemistry issues in the locker room last season that were alleviated by the departure of Jimmy Butler but may still linger. Also, McConnell (now with the Pacers) was their go-to defender when it came time to put 82 feet of ball pressure on an opposing point guard.
The thing with the Pacers will be patience, because Victor Oladipo will not return until December or January, and chemistry takes time to develop. So what the Pacers look like in November and early December will not be important. What they look like coming out of the trade deadline … and prior to March 1 when playoff eligibility is determined, is more important. You won’t see them at anything close to +5000 once more sharp money starts coming in.
Curiously, the Raptors are at +3600 on both sites despite being +10000 in Vegas … and it is nearly impossible to find anyone willing to go on the record saying Toronto has a legitimate chance of doing anything other than competing for one of the final few playoff spots in the East.
Other longshots on the board whose odds should probably be a little shorter include the Sacramento Kings and Detroit Pistons (+15000 at DK) and 160-1 (Kings) at FD and 210-1 (Pistons at FD). The revamped New Orleans Pelicans are +6000 at DK and +6500 at FD.
We’ll take a look at some more outlier teams as the summer moves forward because die-hard basketball fans do not have an offseason. Also, we have the FIBA World Cup to look forward to, and TheLines.com will be the place to go for insight for those who believe that Team USA’s 13-year winning streak is due to end.