NBA Team Preview: Indiana Pacers
After losing in the Eastern Conference’s play-in tournament last season, the Indiana Pacers decided to go back to the future and bring back former head coach Rick Carlisle for his second stint in the job with the club. Carlisle had been the Dallas Mavericks head coach for the last 13 seasons, including the 2011 NBA Championship campaign. He now replaces Nate Bjorkgren, who lasted just one season as the Indiana head coach.
Can a different voice on the bench make a difference for the Pacers? They’ve had their disappointments over the last few years, but injuries have been the main constant, with various players missing big chunks of time. Indiana has the talent to get back into the postseason under Carlisle, but can it avoid the bad luck it has experienced under previous head coaches?
The addition of the defensive-minded Carlisle should keep the Pacers focused on that end of the floor. Indiana finished 26th in the league in scoring defense, allowing 115.3 points per game. Carlisle’s Mavericks were ninth in the league with 110.2 points allowed per game.
The Pacers’ biggest addition in the offseason on the court is forward Torrey Craig, who split his 2020-21 season between the two teams in the NBA Finals, the Bucks and the Suns. Craig averaged 7.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in 32 games with Phoenix, helping the team reach the final round of the postseason before falling to Milwaukee.
Indiana didn’t make too many personnel changes in the offseason. One of the losses was one of the better shooters on the team, as forward Doug McDermott has moved on to the San Antonio Spurs. McDermott started 29 games and averaged 13.6 points while shooting 38.6 percent from the three-point range.
The Pacers have a number of players who could lead the team back into the playoffs. Guard Malcolm Brogdon led Indiana in scoring a season ago, averaging 21.2 points. He also played tough on-the-ball defense and averaged 5.3 rebounds and 5.9 assists. Injuries limited him to just 56 games.
Also dealing with injuries in 2020-21 was guard Caris LaVert, who came to the Pacers in the deal that sent Victor Oladipo away. LaVert had heart troubles when he arrived in Indiana, and he was limited to just 35 games. He played well when he was on the floor, averaging 20.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.9 assists.
Forward Domantas Sabonis is the team’s biggest box score stuffer, averaging 20.3 points, a team-high 12.0 rebounds, and 6.7 assists. His season was limited to 62 games because of back troubles.
A big key for the Pacers becoming more of a title contender is the healthy return of guard TJ Warren. The 28-year-old played just four games last season due to a fractured foot that is still healing. Warren averaged 15.5 points in those four games after scoring 19.8 points in 2019-20 in his first season with the Pacers.
Indiana Pacers 2021-22 Odds and Lines
2021-22 Win Total: 43 Division Odds: +1200 Conference Odds: +4000 Title Odds: +8000
* All odds provided by Action247 Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
**All views expressed are my own. My picks are my own and are not a guarantee, bet at your own risk.