The Indiana Pacers are off to a hot start in the 2020-2021 NBA season.
The team’s 7-4 record ties them with the Milwaukee Bucks for the third seed. That success may come as a surprise to some considering how much the rest of the Eastern Conference improved over the offseason.
The young Celtics had another year to grow together, and the same goes for the 76ers.
The Bucks haven’t gone anywhere and the Nets are back in the picture with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden.
And yet, despite having tougher opponents than ever, this Pacers team keeps winning games. That has Indiana in a unique situation for betting.
Indiana Pacers betting odds
Even with the team’s success, sportsbooks still haven’t moved the needle much when it comes to the Pacers’ odds.
The team has taken a step up from last season.
Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis went from good to great, and Caris LeVert will provide a nice spark on offense. Myles Turner even looks like a Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) candidate so far.
But despite that, the odds haven’t changed much. That suggests that oddsmakers don’t believe the Pacers can compete with the top teams in the conference.
That’s good news for you if you’re a believer. With Indiana’s odds so low, there’s an opportunity to find some real value if you think the team’s hot start is more than a fluke.
Turner’s DPOY odds at FanDuel are a fun place to start. Ron Artest was the last Pacer to win the award back in the 2003-2004 season.
- Ben Simmons: +1,000
- Joel Embiid: +1,000
- Myles Turner: +1,900
- Kawhi Leonard: +3,300
Anthony Davis is the current favorite at +240, but Turner will find himself near the top of the list at this rate. His odds were at +4,000 just last week, so the betting value on his DPOY chances might not last for long.
The Pacers are the clear number two when it comes to winning the Central Division. The Bucks are the heavy favorite over at DraftKings.
- Milwaukee Bucks: -2,000
- Indiana Pacers: +700
- Chicago Bulls: +10,000
- Cleveland Cavaliers: +20,000
- Detroit Pistons: +25,000
Giannis Antetokounmpo missing any amount of time would put the Pacers in the running for the division. That’s more likely than ever now, considering the league’s rough start to avoiding COVID-19.
NBA adds new coronavirus protocols
The NBA has had a bumpy start to the season when it comes to avoiding COVID.
Teams are testing frequently for the virus, but the results have not been good.
When players test positive, or have been around someone who has, they can no longer play in their team’s games.
Those quarantines have led to some problems. With so many players sitting out, teams are struggling to field the minimum eight players required to play.
The Celtics have already postponed three games for that exact reason.
Other teams are facing the same issues. Given the NBA’s focus on load management, playing full games with such short rotations isn’t exactly ideal.
But neither is having to postpone games at all. This season is already working with a condensed 72-game schedule, so there isn’t a lot of wiggle room to make up games that miss their original play date.
To put it plainly, the NBA has backed itself into a corner with its handling of the virus so far. To some degree, this was inevitable without the safety of the league’s playoff bubble.
The NBA recently announced some changes to its COVID policy to try and right the ship. Those changes require facemasks at all times on the bench during games, and players are now required to stay at home for at least the next two weeks.
Former Pacer and Indianapolis native George Hill is not happy with the changes.
George Hill expressed frustration with the NBA's stricter health and safety protocols.
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) January 13, 2021
If things don’t improve soon, the Pacers and the rest of the NBA’s teams will be postponing even more games left and right. That’s hardly ideal for a team that’s finally about to welcome back fans.
Something had to change, so the league will certainly be hoping that its new policies get things heading in the right direction.