- The Pacers’ NBA Championship odds have lengthened following a season-ending injury to Victor Oladipo
- Can Indiana rally without its explosive All-Star guard?
- Will Tyreke Evans step up his game in Oladipo’s absence?
The Pacers won their game on Wednesday night, but they may have lost their season in the process.
Indiana was dealt a crushing blow with four minutes remaining in the second quarter of their game against the Raptors when Victor Oladipo ruptured the quad tendon in his right knee while defending Toronto forward Pascal Siakam.
The injury was every bit as gruesome as it sounds, and will keep the high-flying All-Star out for the remainder of the 2018-19 season.
Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo was taken off the court on a stretcher in the first half versus the Raptors with an apparent knee injury.
Oladipo had tears in his eyes but gave a thumbs up as he was wheeled to the locker room. pic.twitter.com/kXmsvpTw25
— ESPN (@espn) January 24, 2019
Oladpio’s injury has already had an immediate – and dispiriting – impact on the team’s title hopes as Indiana has seen their odds to win the 2019 NBA Championship rise from +5400 to +6400 across a number of top online sportsbooks. That puts the Pacers well behind the Golden State Warriors, who remain the odds-on favorite to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy for the third consecutive season.
2019 NBA Championship Odds
|Who Will Win the 2019 NBA Championship?||Bovada Odds (01/24/19)|
|Golden State Warriors||-190|
Oladipo is Indiana’s Heart and Soul
Calling Oladipo Indiana’s best player is a massive understatement. The fleet-footed 26-year-old leads the Pacers in minutes, points, and steals, and is second in assists and player efficiency rating. When healthy, Oladipo is easily the team’s best playmaker on offense, and its most tenacious ball hound on defense.
Victor Oladipo Career Stats
Indiana is 7-4 this season in games Oladipo has missed. That’s far better than the 0-7 mark they achieved in 2017-18, but still not good enough to compete with the East’s elite.
Where Does Indiana Go from Here?
Oladipo’s injury will likely lead to more minutes for Tyreke Evans, whom Indiana acquired in the offseason to help bolster its bench. The former Rookie of the Year has fallen far short of expectations in 2018-19, and is scoring nearly nine fewer points per game than a year ago.
Part of that can be attributed to his decreased usage rate, but part of it is just miserable shooting. Evans is hitting a career low 39% of his field-goals, and his three-point percentage and effective field-goal percentage have dipped precariously. The 29-year-old combo guard can still score when he gets enough touches, but Indiana will sorely miss Oladipo’s efficiency.
Domantas Sabonis has zero fear, sent Embiid into early retirement with this poster🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/7MXy2aoePf
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) November 8, 2018
Another player who will see an increased role is Domantas Sabonis. The third-year forward is posting career-highs across the board this season, and is averaging 16 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2.9 assists over his last 10 games. Sabonis’ feel for the game is off the charts for a player his age, and coach Nate McMillan is likely to lean on him to help facilitate Indiana’s offense.
Indy is Stuck in No Man’s Land
The Pacers are now in the worst spot you can be in the modern NBA. They’re no longer good enough to compete for a top playoff seed, but they’re too good to tank. It’s an unenviable position, and it’s certain to result in a first round ouster and a disappointing draft pick.
For now all Indy can do is play out the string and hope – and pray – that Oladpio makes a full recovery.