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NBA Offseason Weekly: Pacers Pushing for Playoffs?

Indiana’s Strong Offseason Overshadowed

Compared to previous years, it’s been a rather quiet NBA offseason. Damian Lillard and James Harden requested trades, but no deals have gone through. These trade discussions could go into the 2023-24 season. Most of the top free agents re-signed with their respective teams, like Kyrie Irving and Khris Middleton. The drama has been lacking. Even without league-shaking news, some moves are still being overshadowed.

The Indiana Pacers have enjoyed one of the strongest offseasons in the NBA. They did not acquire a superstar, but the franchise continues to build in the right way around its young core. Let’s look at what Indiana has added and how it could affect NBA betting.

NBA Offseason Weekly: Pacers Pushing for Playoffs?
Bennedict Mathurin #00 of the Indiana Pacers | elsa/getty images/afp

Pacers Check Biggest Needs

The Pacers showed plenty of promise in the 2022-23 season. They finished 35-47, compared to 25-57 in the 2021-22 season. Guard Tyrese Haliburton earned his first All-Star appearance after averaging career highs of 20.7 points and 10.4 assists. GuardBennedict Mathurin was one of the best rookies in the association, totaling 16.7 points per game. Center Myles Turner had a career-high 18 points per game and remained a force as a rim protector (2.3 blocks per game).

The rebuild was beginning to produce results. Entering the offseason, upgrading the defense was the clear need. While the Pacers were ninth in points per game, they allowed 119.5 points per game (29th). In the 2023 NBA Draft, Indiana selected forward Jarace Walker from Houston. Walker was perhaps the best defensive prospect of the class. He has excellent versatility with the ability to guard the perimeter, and Walker has a knack for swatting shots.

Walker will probably fall short of Rookie of the Year, as NBA odds are favoring Victor Wembanyama, Scoot Henderson and Chet Holmgren. Walker will likely lack the point production, but he could have a major impact on the defensive end. His all-around game should fit seamlessly into the Pacers’ lineup. Walker also has good scoring potential, making him a promising building block.

Indiana’s upgrades continued into free agency. It acquired forward Obi Toppin from the New York Knicks for two second-round picks. Toppin was a solid bench piece, mostly featured in a catch-and-shoot role. Toppin’s defense has been underwhelming through his first three seasons. However, he has the length and athleticism to develop as a defender.

The addition of Walker and Toppin gives the Pacers more depth in the frontcourt, which should also help their rebounding. Indiana ranked 30th in defensive rebounding percentage last season.

The Pacers’ strongest offseason move was signing free agent Bruce Brown to a two-year, $45 million deal. Brown was one of the NBA’s best sixth men last season, averaging 11.5 points. He played a vital role in the Denver Nuggets’ run to their first NBA title.

Indy Has Inside Track for Postseason Berth?

Indiana has been on the rise. After a strong offseason, what should the expectations be? It did a great job of addressing needs like defense and frontcourt depth. We have seen several young teams take major leaps over the last couple of seasons, like the Sacramento Kings. Are the Pacers the next young squad to break through?

The sportsbook has a postseason berth priced at +150. These NBA lines would suggest a playoff appearance is realistic. Why wouldn’t it be? Indiana has plenty of offense, and it only got stronger with the addition of Brown on the bench. The Pacers will feature an exciting backcourt with plenty of scorers.

The defense will still have some problems, as Haliburton (116.9), Mathurin (121), and Buddy Hield (115.2) have poor career defensive ratings. We are not going to advertise Indiana as a superteam with championship aspirations. The roster still has clear holes that will limit the team’s ceiling. However, the Pacers are headed in the right direction and deserve kudos for a strong offseason.

Las Vegas NBA odds will offer win total lines when the 2023-24 season draws near. The over for Indiana could become a popular pick for NBA predictions. Don’t sleep on the Pacers’ upgrades. They could yield high profits with a playoff berth in the upcoming season.

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