Last season ended in disappointment for the Indiana Pacers, as the team was blown out by the Washington Wizards in the play-in tournament and ultimately missed out on a postseason berth. There are a few reasons to believe that the Pacers will bounce back this year, however, starting with their head coaching change.
Rick Carlisle is back with Indiana, returning to the franchise after a 13-year stint with the Dallas Mavericks. Since leaving the Pacers in 2007, Carlisle has become one of the more respected coaches in the NBA, winning a championship along the way.
Carlisle is bound to make the most of a talented roster that features the likes of Domantas Sabonis, Caris LeVert, Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. Warren, and Myles Turner. There may be some growing pains, but if all the pieces fall into place, Indiana could be a playoff team this year.
With that said, let’s dive into our 2021 Pacers predictions. Please note that all odds and lines are current as of Wednesday, October 13.
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Pacers Win Total Prediction 2021-2022
Pacers Under 42.5 Wins (-105) at PointsBet
Indiana should be better in 2021-22, but it remains to be seen how much they’ll improve. Carlisle will certainly help get the most out of this roster, as will key players returning to full health.
However, it’s hard to be a real believer in the Pacers given the state of the Eastern Conference this season. The East is expected to be highly competitive this year, and Indiana failed to upgrade during the offseason as much as their rivals did. Their biggest splashes were adding Torrey Craig via free agency and re-signing T.J. McConnell, neither of which moves the needle much.
Pacers Win Total Pick 2021-2022: Under
This is a talented roster, but given how strong the rest of the conference looks this year, it’s hard to imagine Indiana finishing above .500 during the regular season.
Pacers Make NBA Playoffs Prediction 2021-2022
Pacers to Miss the Playoffs (+135) at BetMGM
The Pacers may not enjoy a ton of regular-season success, but given the nature of the NBA postseason, they may not have to. Indiana finished as the No. 9 seed last season and qualified for the play-in tournament despite going 34-38, so it’s possible to have a losing record and still be in position to play postseason basketball.
Even if the Pacers do return to the play-in tournament, however, they’re likely to be outgunned based on the relative lack of impact talent on their roster. Indiana just didn’t do enough during the offseason to separate themselves from the pack and seems likely to fall short of the playoffs again as a result.
Pacers Make NBA Playoffs Pick 2021-2022: No
The Pacers have the coaching and talent to reach the playoffs, but with how good some of their rivals look on paper, it’s hard to envision Indiana advancing to the playoffs this year.
Pacers To Win NBA Championship Prediction 2021-2022
Pacers to Win NBA Championship (+10000) at PointsBet
If the Pacers aren’t going to make the playoffs, then they most certainly aren’t going to win the NBA Finals, either. However, for the sake of being thorough, let’s say they do qualify for the postseason.
Indiana’s ceiling is probably the No. 6 or No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. This would require consistent health, strong team chemistry, stealing a few wins, and some of their competitors underperforming.
Assuming they’re fortunate enough to make it that far, they simply don’t have what it takes to win multiple playoff series and defeat the best teams in the conference. The talent differential between Indiana and the Milwaukee Bucks or Brooklyn Nets, for example, would be too large for the Pacers to overcome.
Pacers NBA Championship Pick 2021-2022: No
The Pacers will be competitive this season, but they’re not championship-caliber.
Pacers & Player Prop Predictions 2021-2022
Chris Duarte to Win Rookie Of The Year (+4000) at Caesars
The oldest player in the 2021 NBA Draft class fell to the Pacers at No. 13, and it’s hard to imagine him being in a better situation than he is now. Carlisle has never shied from putting first-year players on the floor, and given Chris Duarte‘s maturity and skillset, all signs point to him being a regular part of the rotation throughout the season.
The 24-year-old separated himself from the competition by way of his three-point range during his two years at Oregon, shooting 42.4% from beyond the arc in 2020-21 and establishing himself as arguably the best shooter in his class. Duarte has also flashed his playmaking and defensive abilities in the preseason, highlighted by his 15-point, 5-assist debut.
Duarte will face stiff competition for Rookie of the Year, but he’s also less likely to experience growing pains given his advanced age. If players like Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green underwhelm, Duarte could wind up near the top of the polls at year’s end — think Tyrese Haliburton in last year’s rookie race.
Domantas Sabonis: Regular-Season Rebounding Leader (+700) at Caesars
Domantas Sabonis has been an absolute force on the glass over his last two seasons with the Pacers, averaging 12.2 rebounds across roughly 36 minutes per game. Unsurprisingly, he’s been a top-five finisher in rebounds per game both years.
Sabonis has yet to win a rebounding title, but there’s good reason to believe he can do so in 2022, especially based on how he finished last season. In April and May, he hauled in a monstrous 13.8 boards per game over his final 16 contests. He brought down 15+ in seven of those games, including a stretch of consecutive 19-rebound performances.
If Sabonis can carry that same aggressiveness into the 2021-22 season, the only person stopping him from claiming the title will be himself.
Malcolm Brogdon: Under 20.6 Points Per Game (-115) at DraftKings
Malcolm Brogdon was Indiana’s leading scoring leader in 2020-21, pouring in an average of 21.2 points per game. While he’s an excellent player, it’s difficult to foresee him approaching that number again.
Brogdon’s career year happened largely by circumstance, as the Pacers were hit hard by injuries last season. Somebody had to step up and score, and Brogdon was the one to do so.
With Indiana’s roster looking much healthier heading into this season, Brogdon’s usage rate should fall considerably this year, barring another wave of injuries.
In two seasons with the Pacers, Brogdon has averaged 18.9 points per game. Expect his scoring numbers to fall closer to that this year.