Pacers Meeting Expectations Through 43 Games, According to Vegas

This past week, the Indiana Pacers have struggled against midlevel competition. Familiar faces have not been so friendly; the Phoenix Suns (starters Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee) and a Brian Shaw-led Denver Nuggets squad have both exploited the Pacers’ defense. The team would be 0-3 on the current Western Conference road trip if not for Paul George’s four-point play against the Sacramento Kings.

Despite recent letdowns, the Pacers have performed consistent to “expectations.” At least according to the oddsmakers at the top NBA wagering services. The Pacers have won 84% (31-6) of the contests where they are favored, second only to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Here is a comparison for the top five teams in the NBA standings (based on data for closing lines from VegasInsider.com, as of January 27):

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NBA standings give a basic snapshot of a team’s performance. Strength of schedule numbers or ESPN’s Hollinger Power Rankings can provide a clearer picture.

However, these measures are subjugated to concrete numbers and are limited in regards to longer-term trend analysis. Oddsmakers take into account a plethora of additional factors such as Roy Hibbert’s matchup against particular centers, Lance Stephenson’s confidence level, and Paul George’s shooting slump.

Here is some insight into the process from an article on Pregame.com.

Once a game’s power rating based pointspread is determined, the oddsmaker will make adjustments to that line after considering each team’s most recent games played and previous games played against that opponent. Also, adjustments are made after reading each team’s local newspapers to get a sense of what the coaches and players are thinking going into the game.

In other words, NBA wagering lines may be the most comprehensive forecast of a team’s ability and are often adjusted on an hourly basis. These oddmakers must be doing something right, for they are the key to an estimated $380 billion dollar sports wagering industry domestically in the United States, according to a study by the American Gaming Association.

In all likelihood, the Pacers will have to get through the Miami Heat to win their first NBA title. The reigning champions have been a hard to gauge due to Dwayne Wade’s nagging injuries and LeBron James’ fatigue. Nevertheless, oddsmakers adjust for these setbacks, so the 73% mark (30-11) against underdogs may suggest that the Heat have not lived up to their full potential.

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