2 Reasons The Pacers Will Make A Run At The East
Having backed the Indiana Pacers to upset the Celtics during last year’s playoffs only to see the both of us get swept, I have every reason to abandon ship and look elsewhere for a place to put my betting dollars. However, with Bucks and Sixers looking like near-locks to win the NBA’s Eastern Conference, higher-odds value bets are as tough to find as a Kyrie Irving group hug. Which is why, with the Durant-less Nets still at least a year out from contention, and the Horford-less Celtics likely in the same position, I’ll be looking at 2 reasons the Pacers are the team with the best betting value outside the big two.
1. Off-season 2019
Indiana was on absolute fire early last season before suffering an injury to Victor Oladipo and petering out with a lackluster 16-19 record the rest of the way to finish in 5th place, only 3 games back of 3rd place Philly. With an aggressive slew of signings including Malcolm Brogdon and others discussed below, and the return of their MVP slated to happen early in the new year, the Pacers appear poised to improve on last season and at the very least contend for a top 3 position.
Not to mention that with Kawhi and Lebron now both terrorizing folks in the West and Durant potentially out for the season, the East is now softer than it’s been in quite some time and should allow the team that went 33-19 vs conference opponents a chance to improve on those numbers and put themselves in serious contention.
2. Roster Moves
Speaking of improvement, even though the Pacers didn’t make the type of big splashes that dominated the headlines this off-season, they may have made one of the low-key best free-agencies in the East by sniping Bucks sharpshooter Malcolm Brogdon away from their division rivals, a signing that should provide them with some room for error until Oladipo is ready to return sometime early in 2020. The Pacers then went out and grabbed Raptors killer Jeremy Lamb, Philly backup TJ McConnell, TJ Warren as well, adding solid depth to an already well-constructed roster. And while the loss of Bogdanovic surely hurt Indiana, the value of the three incoming players clearly makes the Pacers a better team than last year in a conference that should be a little softer for at least one year.
So while, I don’t think the Pacers will necessarily win the East, I do believe that they hold more betting value than their +1400 indicates, meaning that if we run simulations of the upcoming NBA season ad-infinitum, they’d come out on top more often that their allotted 6.6% of the time. And if that’s the case, the betting value is there to take a long-shot against Eastern Conference heavy-weights Milwaukee and Philadelphia.
~ Yaniv Son