In trying to get off a treadmill of mediocrity, it can be argued turning to a retread as once and now current coach is counterproductive.
The Indiana Pacers — who have not been to the second round of the postseason since 2014 — have again turned to Rick Carlisle as coach, 14 years after his first stint ended. He was hired one week after he stepped down as coach from the Dallas Mavericks with two years left on his contract in June, ending a 13-season run that included four 50-win campaigns.
While Carlisle did guide the Mavericks to an NBA title in 2011, that six-game series win over the Miami Heat is also the last time he won a postseason series. Despite having one of the league’s best players in Luka Doncic, Carlisle and the Mavericks failed to advance out of the first round in each of the last two seasons.
He returns to Indiana looking to get the Pacers back to the playoffs after a one-season flameout under Nate Bjorkgren. They finished 34-38 and ninth in the Eastern Conference, and the play-in tournament was a microcosm of the season: Indiana shot lights out in routing Charlotte in the first game and then had the tables turned in similar fashion by Washington.
The Pacers have some good pieces. Domantas Sabonis is a borderline elite player, and Myles Turner is one of the league’s top defenders in the frontcourt. But Indiana was an injury-plagued team last season, and that has continued ahead of Wednesday night’s season opener at Charlotte as expected starters Caris LaVert and T.J. Warren are both sidelined.
That makes the Pacers an intriguing play for futures at sportsbooks across Indiana, and there is no lack of offerings in the basketball-mad Hoosier State. As always, value can be found if you look deep enough.
The big plays
the comeback begins in 24 hours ⌛️
narrated by @jermaineoneal | #GoldBlooded pic.twitter.com/xsiElnXiQo
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) October 19, 2021
While there may be some question marks about who will score points for the Pacers behind Sabonis in the short term, oddsmakers consider the Pacers to be playoff-worthy. The best “yes” value on the yes/no play for Indiana to make the postseason can be found on the Kambi platform powering BetRivers and Unibet at -139, with theScore a clear third choice at -150.
For those thinking “no” is the correct answer for a second straight season, DraftKings is your top play at +145.
In the middle, FanDuel and BetMGM are both offering the Pacers as a +125 option to return to the play-in tournament.
In terms of a deep playoff run, oddsmakers are nowhere near as sold. The most common value for the Pacers to win the NBA title is +10000, found everywhere but WynnBET (+7500) and Kambi (+8000). BetMGM and theScore have the best play for the Eastern Conference title at +5000, while BetRivers and Unibet are tops for a Central Division crown at +1200.
DraftKings, meanwhile, is offering even money (+100) for a 1-2 Milwaukee-Indiana finish in the Central, reflecting how lopsided a favorite the reigning NBA champions are to win the division.
Most sportsbooks have pegged Indiana’s over/under for wins at 42.5 with varying vigs. Those optimistic can latch onto the over at -105 at FanDuel, those pessimistic can grab the same nickel at both DraftKings and WynnBET. Caesars serves as the outlier for the win total, offering 43.5 at -110 in each direction.
DraftKings is also offering win bands, with 41 to 44 the most expected outcome at +180. DK skews under for its second choice with a +275 for 37-40 wins, while bettors thinking Carlisle will overachieve can grab the 45-48 band at +300.
There are some plays for seeds, with Caesars offering +12500 and BetMGM +10000 for the Pacers to be the No. 1 seed in the East. BetMGM also has gone all in offering odds on Indiana being seeded first through the seventh in the conference, with a sliding scale that includes +800 for the No. 5 seed, +650 for No. 6, and +500 for No. 7.
Sabonis a man of the sportsbook offerings
Domantas Sabonis on Rick Carlisle: "I think every player on this team is trending upward, is playing their best basketball, so why not have one of the best coaches out there to steer us in the right direction?"#Pacers pic.twitter.com/LbngO8gsFH
— Bally Sports Indiana (@BallySportsIN) October 13, 2021
The son of international basketball legend and former Portland Trail Blazers center Arvydas Sabonis, Domantas has improved season by season and is coming off a career campaign in which he averaged 20.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 6.7 assists. In looking at the Mavericks from last season, Carlisle had a player with a similar skill set in Doncic, who had a slash line of 27.7/8.0/8.6.
While Sabonis may not be the generational talent Doncic appears to be, there is a chance Sabonis’ game further expands on the perimeter — he made a career-best 52 3-pointers last season — and his numbers again improve to make him a worthy play for some offerings.
He is listed anywhere from +5500 (theScore) to +10000 (Kambi and WynnBET) for NBA MVP and can also be grabbed at +5000 at PointsBet and theScore for Most Improved Player. Sabonis has been short-listed to have the highest rebounding average, with BetMGM the best value there at +1000.
DraftKings has over/under offerings for Sabonis for average points (20.5), rebounds (12.1), and assists (6.7), all listed at -115 in both directions. He is also a -105 underdog versus Miami’s Jimmy Butler on a head-to-head play for higher assist average.
Other player props to ponder
Myles Turner on how he's perceived:
“I think people think they know me, but they don't really know me…”.
(Must see hype video via @Original_Turner’s IG 👇) #Pacers pic.twitter.com/NPVoTk5Djb
— Zach Pearson (@zapearsonNBA) October 20, 2021
The only other Pacers player short-listed for an award is Turner, among the frontrunners for Defensive Player of the Year. PointsBet has the best value play there at +1000, notably better than the shortest odds of +750 at DraftKings and WynnBET.
First-round pick and shooting guard Chris Duarte is on the board for Rookie of the Year honors, with DraftKings and theScore both offering +3500. Backup guard T.J. McConnell, who was one of the few players to thrive last season under Bjorkgren, is getting play for Sixth Man of the Year, with BetMGM’s +5000 clearly the top value.
DraftKings likes McConnell enough to include an over/under of 6.1 assists per game at -115 both ways and head-to-head matchups at -115 versus Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan.
And lastly, for those on the Carlisle bandwagon, books that do have Coach of the Year offerings start at +2000, with BetRivers and Unibet on the high end at +2800.