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If you have been watching the early season National Basketball Association games in the Hoosier State, you will most certainly know the Indiana Pacers are off to a decent start to the 2022-23 season.

The Pacers sat in sixth place in the early NBA Eastern Conference standings, in what is looking likely to be a very muddled middle of the pack.

Yes, the Boston Celtics look like the best team in the league. Yes, the Milwaukee Bucks are most assuredly going to get hot, and probably also pull away from the pack, now that Khris Middleton is back.

But the playoffs are not always about the two teams at the top: think back to last season’s playoffs, when you had the third and fourth seeds battling it out in the Western Conference Finals to go to the NBA Finals. The seeds do not always go to form, and there can be upsets: you have to be in it to win it, though, and that means getting into the top six (seeds seven through 10 have to battle in the play-in tournament before even getting a shot at the top two seeds.)

So far, Indiana looks to be one of the surprise outfits in all of the NBA. If you remember back to last spring (and Indiana fans might not want to relive that), the Pacers ended the season on a 10-game losing streak and finished 25-57.

Not great.

But Bennedict Mathurin came in as the sixth pick in the draft and scored right away in his 20-year-old season, and the Pacers came into December at 12-9. Think about that: Indiana has already won half the amount of games it did last season in basically the first five weeks of this campaign.

Are they going to win 60 games? Probably not. Can they make the playoffs? That might be possible.

Right now, sportsbook sites in Indiana have Indiana still rank outsiders to break into the top 10 of the Eastern Conference standings and book a playoff spot. As of December 1, the Pacers had odds of -480 to miss the postseason, and +325 to make it into the playoff party.

Now, that is some decent value.

This team certainly looks good enough to win 35-plus games, and that might be good enough to make the playoffs in the muddled Eastern Conference. So far, it is the Pacers’ play against their Eastern rivals (9-4 going into December) that has them humming.

Should you back Indiana at +25000 to win the Eastern Conference title? Maybe not quite yet: but a shot at a playoff berth might be worth it.

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