The 2019-20 NBA regular season draws nigh. Indiana sportsbooks aren’t high on the Pacers NBA Finals odds because of the health of one man.
The uncertainty surrounding when Indiana guard Victor Oladipo will return, and what he’ll look like when he does, certainly affects those odds. In a high-risk situation, there is also a high reward for contrarian plays, however.
Why Oladipo is crucial for the Pacers NBA Finals odds
Before Oladipo ruptured the quad tendon in his right knee in January, he was having a spectacular season. After 46 games of the 2018-19 season, he had averaged 18.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists.
Perhaps most importantly, Indiana was 31-15 and had separate winning streaks of six and seven games. The Pacers were a legitimate threat in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
Without Oladipo, Indiana finished 17-19. That was sufficient to qualify for the playoffs, but the Boston Celtics swept the Pacers in the first round without Oladipo.
Much of the same team that won games at a .673 percentage rate with Oladipo is back for the 2019-20 season. Indiana acquired guard Malcolm Brogdon to help in Oladipo’s absence, but he has yet to establish himself as the focal point of the Pacers’ offense like Oladipo did.
Like it or not, betting on the Indiana Pacers is tied to Oladipo. As Oladipo goes, so do the Pacers. That’s why getting him back, and getting him back as effective as he was before the injury, is crucial. If he’s just a shell of himself, Indiana will only be a shell of what it could be.
The latest reports still give no time table for his return. They state his rehab is going well, however. Because Oladipo remains an unknown, operators participating in legal sports betting in Indiana are sellers rather than buyers on the Pacers this year.
Oladipo could be a hero for Indiana sports bettors
Sports betting software company Kambi says that most of the action on NBA title futures as far as the Eastern Conference goes revolves around three teams: the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers.
At Indiana’s legal online sportsbooks, currently limited to BetRivers and DraftKings, odds reflect that action. The lines on the 2019-20 NBA championship for those three teams and Indiana at both books are as follows:
- Brooklyn: +2500
- Indiana: +5000
- Milwaukee: +650
- Philadelphia: +700
The Pacers winning the NBA Finals would require defeating a very formidable Western Conference opponent. Because of that, both books are a lot more optimistic about Indiana qualifying for the Finals by winning the East.
- Brooklyn: +1200
- Indiana: +1800
- Milwaukee: +150
- Philadelphia: +220
Both books have a win expectancy for the Pacers set at 47.5 and expect Indiana to make the playoffs. Those bets are currently offered assuming Oladipo won’t be much of a factor, at least to begin the season.
If Oladipo returns quickly and regains his form, that could not only push the Pacers into the 55-60 win range but make them far more dangerous in the postseason. The possibility of that happening makes the +100 on the over for Indiana’s win total look attractive.
Though the lines on the Pacers coming out of the East or winning their first NBA championship are much more of a risk, the reward is potentially greater as well. With all the action going on the three expected powers in the East, betting on Indiana to win the NBA championship is a great contrarian play.
That play depends on the play of Oladipo, however. His return not only to the court but to form as well will make or break wagers on the Pacers this season.