The Indiana Pacers return to play on Saturday August 1 when they take on the Philadelphia 76ers. The NBA season was postponed indefinitely in mid-March when Rudy Gobert was forced out of action due to coronavirus just before the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder were set to tip off. The next day, just about every sport in existence was put on hold.

As the NBA makes its return with eight regular season games and then the playoffs, the Pacers are +4.5 at DraftKings Sportsbook. BetRivers Sportsbook, and BetMGM Sportsbook for that August 1 game. FanDuel Sportsbook is even less enthused about their chances at +5.

Unfortunately, the Pacers will be without their best player, as Victor Oladipo has decided to opt out of the NBA’s return to play plan. Oladipo’s reservations seem more about his injury than coronavirus concerns, given that he will be in Orlando to continue his rehab. Oladipo, like so many other players, is concerned about his well-being with the re-ramp-up to the season and the heightened stakes with the playoffs looming.

Oladipo will not be the only player missing. Jeremy Lamb is still out with the knee injury that he suffered before the NBA shut down.

Not having Oladipo and Lamb certainly hurts, but the Pacers actually had a higher Offensive Rating of 110 and a better Net Rating of 2.1 without ‘Dipo on the floor this season. They had a higher Effective Field Goal Percentage of 53.5% and a higher True Shooting % of 56.7%. With Oladipo, they had a 103.8 ORtg, a eFG% of 51.9%, and a TS% of 55%.

Sample size bias does play a role, given that Oladipo only appeared in 13 games and only played 337 minutes. The Pacers played 2,803 minutes without him on the floor. The Pacers were 7-6 in the games Oladipo played and 32-20 in the games that he did not.

It isn’t necessarily a breaking point or a kiss of death not having Oladipo. You’d like to be at full strength for this unconventional playoff format, but the Pacers are accustomed to adversity, having played a lot without their star player. Other teams may not be as well-versed in tough situations and scenarios and this one is inherently tough in the NBA’s “bubble”.

The regular season will lead into a more traditional playoff setting. The Pacers will go into Orlando as the #5 seed by tiebreakers over the 76ers, so that first game could determine seeing as this moves forward. The Eastern Conference is tiered, with Milwaukee above everybody else, Toronto and Boston in the next tier, and then Miami, Indiana, and Philadelphia all measuring up about the same. It would behoove Indiana to play Miami in the first round, but Boston is beatable. Toronto and Milwaukee are much tougher assignments, but the Pacers are in no danger of dropping any lower than sixth.

Shopping around for the best futures prices is paramount for a variety of reasons. It gives you more flexibility with hedging, but it also increases your winnings if the Pacers do surprise and win it all.

Here is a survey of the odds from five different Indiana sports betting apps:

DraftKings Sportsbook: +10000

BetRivers Sportsbook: +10000

FanDuel Sportsbook: +10000

BetMGM Sportsbook: +12500

PointsBet Sportsbook: +8000

For those that are new to sports betting, +10000 means 100/1, so +12500 means 125/1 and +8000 means 80/1. As you can see, there are some pricing differences. Taking the Pacers at 125/1 at BetMGM Sportsbook would be your best bet if you like their chances.

Getting through the favored Milwaukee Bucks and then one of the Los Angeles teams would be very difficult. Getting to that point to face Milwaukee with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line is a big enough ask, but the Pacers were a top-10 team by Defensive Rating during the regular season and one of the best in the league at taking care of the basketball on offense.

Along the same lines as the championship odds, there are odds for the Pacers to win the Eastern Conference:

DraftKings Sportsbook: +3300

BetRivers Sportsbook: +3300

FanDuel Sportsbook: +2900

BetMGM Sportsbook: +3300

PointsBet Sportsbook: +3000

As things currently sit, that would mean beating Miami, Milwaukee, and the likely winner of Toronto vs. Boston to get there, but stranger things have certainly happened in sports and we have no idea what will happen with COVID tests and injuries with this return to play format.

As the NBA season gets back underway on July 30, you’ll want to have things ready to go with your preferred sportsbook. We have sportsbook reviews of these five plus William Hill, who will be launching a mobile app soon, right here at Indiana Betting Online. Check them out and sign up today!

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