The NBA released its full regular-season schedule for every team on Thursday and basketball fans couldn't be more excited. Rest, travel and difficulty mean a lot when making projections for a franchise. Looking to get ahead on some long-term betting options? We've got you covered. Here are three long-term bets with desirable odds with considering.
Indiana Pacers under 37.5 wins (+105)
The Pacers got off to a surprisingly strong start in 2022-23 in their first full season with Tyrese Haliburton running the show. However, injuries contributed to their rapid fall out of the top 10 in the Eastern Conference. Indiana has a promising floor general who's fresh off his first All-Star appearance, but there are still plenty of things to question when it comes to the rest of the roster.
Buddy Hield is entering a contract year after making the second-most three-pointers in the league and is sure to be a coveted trade target for contenders in the back half of the season. It seems unlikely that he'll re-sign with a Pacers squad that hasn't made the playoffs since 2020. Myles Turner is a premier rim protector, but the rest of the frontcourt is fairly unproven. The additions Jarace Walker and Bruce Brown won't make up for the size advantage that teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Detroit Pistons boast.
Indiana will play 32 games against teams that finished sixth or better in their respective conferences last season. The Pacers only went 10-25 straight up in those matchups. I doubt that Indiana will reach 38 wins given that information. Especially with Milwaukee and Cleveland in their division.
Atlanta Hawks to make the play-in tournament (+125)
The Hawks finished right at .500 with a 41-41 record last season and it doesn't seem like there will be much movement toward the top of the Eastern Conference. The Philadelphia 76ers will be a playoff team whether James Harden returns or not and the Brooklyn Nets will have to adjust to not centering their team around a pair of superstars in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Even if one of those teams drops out of the top six, Atlanta will still have to beat out the Miami Heat fresh off a run to the NBA Finals. The Heat, Chicago Bulls, and Toronto Raptors secured at least 40 wins last season, so the race will likely be tight. Atlanta hasn't made any significant moves to improve, but several of the teams above them have over the offseason. I expect another middle-of-the-road season from the Hawks, but they shouldn't drop outside of the top 10.
New Orleans Pelicans to miss the playoffs (+115)
The Pelicans fell short of the playoffs by way of play-in tournament elimination last year, and Zion Williamson's health problems had a lot to do with the team's struggles. He logged 29 games in his third NBA season and the league's schedule likely won't be kind to the injury-prone big man. The Pelicans will play in 13 back-to-backs and 10 will involve travel. The league high is 15 in 2023-24 and New Orleans has gone 6-9 with the Williamson with no rest since drafting him. The Pelicans could resort to limiting him to prevent injury after a length of absence as they have done in the past.
The Western Conference is as deep as it's ever been. New Orleans was one of the nine teams out West with a winning record but only managed the ninth seed. The Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves essentially both have a pair of All-Star caliber duos, while Shai-Gilgeous Alexander is ready to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder's talented after an All-NBA run. Then there's the duo of Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic in Dallas. Another major injury or reluctance to work Williamson too hard could spell the end for New Orleans.