Indiana Pacers 2023-24 season preview and predictions

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Indiana Pacers season preview

This preview originally appeared in our 2023-24 VSiN NBA Betting Guide, which was released on Thursday, October 5. To become a VSiN Pro subscriber and get all of our NBA coverage throughout the season, click here.

 

Pacers Betting Odds

NBA Finals: +30000
Conference: +13000
Division: +3500
Win Total: 37.5
Playoffs: Yes (+135)

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Team Analysis

Indiana surprised many teams last season when it got off to the start it did. The betting market was shocked as well, as it only took 54 games for the Pacers to surpass their win total. This season the market is strong on Indiana. Their win total has been bet up a win at DraftKings, and the market has given them a 43.5% chance of making it to the playoffs this season. It is easy to see why bettors feel the way they do, but we are certainly near the top of the market price for the Pacers which makes betting on this team somewhat tricky.

If Indiana is going to achieve the lofty goals set for it by the betting market, then it will do with an offense that gave opponents problems last season. The Pacers only averaged 114.7 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time overall, but where they thrived was in transition.

Indiana led the NBA in points added per 100 plays in transition (4.2), overall offensive efficiency in transition off live rebounds (131.8) and fastbreak points per game (18.1). This figures to be an elite transition offense once again this season, and much of that will be driven by Tyrese Haliburton.

According to Cleaning The Glass, the Pacers’ transition frequency jumped by 1.2% when Haliburton was on the floor. He helped improve their overall offensive efficiency in transition by 4.9 points every 100 plays as well, and he was an incredible offensive spark for Indiana. Haliburton averaged 20.7 points and 10.4 assists per game last season, shooting 49.0% from the floor and 40.0% from the 3-point range. His efficiency differential (+6.1) ranked in the 84th percentile. He is among the best offensive players in the league, and complimentary pieces surround him.

Bennedict Mathurin had a strong rookie season in which he averaged 16.7 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, and the expectation is that he will take a positive step forward in his development. Myles Turner was brilliant last season. He ranked in the 83rd percentile in efficiency differential and improved the Pacers’ defensive efficiency by 2.7 points every 100 possessions on the floor. Turner also had his best 3-point shooting season (37.3%) since 2018-2019.

The team also did well to add to this group in the offseason.

Bruce Brown joins the team after helping Denver win the NBA Finals last season. He is the perfect Swiss Army knife that can play off the ball when sharing the floor with the likes of Haliburton or Andrew Nembhard, while also being able to bring the ball up himself. Obi Toppin is a perfect fit for a team that runs the floor as often as Indiana does as well. 

Despite those good vibes though, there are issues with this team that could arise and foil a potential playoff berth.

The transition offense might be effective, but this team still finished 21st in overall offensive efficiency because of an abysmal halfcourt offense that managed just 96.5 points per 100 plays. Indiana also lacked a true presence on the offensive glass last season, which did not allow them to mask the halfcourt issues with second-chance points. Rookie Jerace Walker could help in that regard, but it is unlikely he helps them enough on the offensive boards to vault this halfcourt offense up the standings.

There is also the question of defense.

Indiana was the fifth-worst defense in non-garbage time last season. It allowed 118.7 points per 100 possessions overall and ranked 21st in transition defensive efficiency (129.2) and 24th in halfcourt defensive efficiency (100.2). The additions made to this team in the offseason will not fix those issues, so it’s safe to expect this team to finish below average on that end of the floor again. 

Remember too that Buddy Hield is expected to be traded at some point. That is a player who averaged 16.8 points per game for this team a season ago that will not be on the roster for the vast majority, if not the entirety, of this season.

It’s easy to see the potential for Indiana and why the betting market has come around so strongly on this team. However, it’s clear that this team still has some issues, and if the expected development of certain young players does not take place, then some bettors could find themselves in a sweat early. 

It will be fascinating to see what the betting market does with this team on a nightly basis as well. The Pacers were just 42-39-1 ATS last season and showed themselves overvalued in the favorite role (8-10-1 ATS). Bettors could find some value in going against this team early in the year.

Win Total Analysis

Indiana won 35 games last season, and the betting market for this season is 38.5 at DraftKings. Bettors who believe this team can surpass that win total will need an improvement of four wins, but some factors are working against them. The Pacers were lucky to grind out 25 wins in 48 clutch games last season despite posting a negative net rating in clutch time (-3.7). There is also no logical reason to assume improved defensive play from a team that brings back a majority of the roster from last season.

Those looking to make the case for the over on Indiana’s win total can point to their schedule though. Positive Residual has them with the 10th-lowest strength of schedule in the NBA. The Pacers do have a negative net rest advantage (-1) but only nine games total with a true rest advantage. They also get the benefit of playing only 13 back-to-backs while traveling the fewest miles in the league.

This is a tight win total decision. Haliburton played in only 56 games last season, and should he be available to play 65 or more games that could be the difference with a win total such as this, especially when the team’s schedule is as opportunistic as theirs is. Those factors are enough to recommend this team to go over its win total and compete for a play-in berth.

Win Total Recommendation: OVER 38.5