4 Reasons To Bet Indiana Pacers To Win Eastern Conference
The 2018-19 NBA Season is not far away, and many will be looking to pick a potential dark horse to bet the NBA conference futures. Now that the Cleveland Cavaliers lost the NBA’s favorite son LeBron James to the West Coast, the confidence that came with backing a team featuring the services of one of the game’s most decorated athletes has moved west of the Mississippi.
With this being established, the Eastern Conference could be the new land of opportunity where the the unexpected is expected to occur. One of the teams that could take advantage of the weaker East is the Indiana Pacers. In the 2017-18 season, the Pacers qualified for the post-season as a #5 seed and were subsequently eliminated in the first round in a hard-fought seven game series by the aforementioned Cavaliers.
The chalk to win the Eastern Conference is the Boston Celtics who are priced on 5dimes at -103. In a future market as hazy as this one, any time we see a team requiring juice to win at this level there is almost always enhanced value on the rest of the field as a whole. With the Toronto Raptors adding small forward Kawhi Leonard to their roster, the Great White North has become a very solid second option for the betting public. As a result, Indiana’s price here could be quite undervalued and far more equitable. Nevertheless, there is tremendous upside with outfit. At a price of 25/1 or better at most sportsbooks that posted odds, the Pacers are one of the best value plays on the table. Here is why:
The degree in which the Pacers lost their first round series to Cleveland Cavaliers will likely serve as a source of inspiration for Indiana. The Pacers lost all four of their losses by a margin of no more than four points. On the flip side, the Pacers won two of their three playoff victories by convincing margins, averaging out to 26 points. The difference between Indiana advancing and being eliminated is literally splitting hairs and will serve as a motivating factor for this team to finish games better as they venture into the 2019 post-season. With the Central Division being wide-open, Indiana will see 2018-19 as an opportunity to redeem themselves perhaps not just with a playoff series wins but a conference title to bolster their acclaim.
The Pacers brand of basketball is anchored in stout defensive play matched by an in-your-face approach. The old adage is true that offense wins games and defense wins championships. The Pacers defense closed out the regular season with an exclamation point as it held Golden State to just 81 points in the Oracle Arena on March 27th. In fact, Indiana won its last two against the two-time defending NBA champions. Moreover, Indiana did not allow opponents to break the 110-point threshold for 24 straight games spanning from February 11th all the way until April 8th. Opponents would finally be able to do so in the last two games of the regular season but the Pacers already had their sights set on preparing for the post-season. Be that as it may, the Pacers finished with the ninth ranked scoring defense, so it’s safe to say that the Pacers have a blueprint to study and implement for 2018-19. Given the potency of some of its offensive weapons, if the Pacers defense performs as it did to close out the regular season, this is a team that will eclipse the 48-win mark with ease this season. With the number currently set at 46.5 by the Westgate Casino for this season, Indiana should easily go over that presented figure.
The centrepiece of the Pacers was their rising star Victor Oladipo who posted career highs in field goal shooting percentage (.477), three-point field goal percentage (.371), and points per game (23.4 ppg). With Oladipo finishing the season in April with an insane 50% three-point field goal percentage and a 57.1% field goal percentage, one can imagine that this success may carry over to next season where Oladipo will have that much more swag on the court. The fact remains that his contributions earned him the distinction of Kia’s Most Improved Player of the 2017-18 season. The play of Oladipo was simply stellar and quickly addressed an issue that the departing Monta Ellis could not. Oladipo’s ability to score adds a new dimension to the Pacers as his sensational performance has changed the dynamic of Indiana’s offensive. However, Oladipo gets it done on both sides of the basketball. He was also responsible for an average of 8.0 boards per game, 6.4 assists per game, and 2.4 steals on any given night. The man simply does it all.
Given the front court acumen of the teams within Indiana’s conference with Milwaukee and Detroit possessing two of the most versatile forwards in the game in Blake Griffin and Giannis Antetokuonmpo, Oladipo gives the Pacers its own ace-in-the hole with a perimeter threat could be very difficult to address. After all, when comparing Oladipo to some of the other shooting guards in the Central Division in particular, Indiana holds a clear-cut advantage. The next biggest scoring threat from any Central team in this particular position is Zach Lavine of the Chicago Bulls who averages 16.9 points per game. And let’s call it what it is here, Lavine is known most for dunking over mascots. Furthermore, Bucks two-man Malcolm Brogdon and Pistons shooter Reggie Bullock are not exactly known for their scoring, rebounding, or pocket-picking exploits either. And did we also mention that the Pacers picked up Tyreke “The Freak” Evans in the off-season and he could be on the court with Victor O at the same time?!
Evans serves as another potential weapon to complement Oladipo and take the focus of opposing defenses off of their emerging shooting guard. Evans in his own right can be a formidable threat on offense. Since coming into the league in the 2009-10 season and posting 20.1 points per game, Evans posted his best numbers since with 19.4 points per game in the 2017-18 season with one of the most anemic offenses in the NBA, the Memphis Grizzlies. Adding a second twenty-point scoring threat to a more potent Pacers offense that broke the 106-point threshold in seven of its last twelve outings, Evans may be in line for career numbers in 2018 to complement running mate Oladipo. Lest us also forget that point guard Darren Collison coming into the fold in his second season in Indianapolis will see both Evans and Oladipo getting perhaps even more opportunities as Collison is regarded by many as one of the best facilitators in the NBA at the point guard position.
The Cowboy offense was not the same machine in 2017 as it was in 2016. The 2016 offense scored 421 points while averaging 6.0 yards per play, compared to 354 points and 5.3 ypp in 2017. Keith Allen takes a hard look at why Dallas shouldn’t be picked to beat their season win total line of 8.5.