Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 4/3/13
It’s easy to look past any team in the NBA’s Eastern Conference not named the Miami Heat. Just ask the NBA betting community. That’s just how it goes when the reigning champions are also the franchise with the sport’s incumbent MVP, and the team that went on a 27-game win streak less than two weeks ago. All the hype surrounding South Beach, however, has allowed the Indiana Pacers to lay low with some of the most intriguing NBA odds available. With one of the game’s brightest, longest and most defensively gifted young stars leading the show in Paul George, the Pacers have 18-1 odds of winning the NBA championship. Their title bid, however, goes deeper than that. Joining George both in franchise-defining spirit and the points column is veteran big man David West. The power forward has raised his game in 2012-13 to the point where the Pacers are no longer just a team to look out for on the money line. They’re also an outright championship threat. This Friday, the Pacers will get the opportunity to test their mettle against the top team in the Western Conference. While the Oklahoma City Thunder may be neck-and-neck with the San Antonio Spurs in the win column, there’s a reason the flashy young Thunder are the only alternative option at the top of Bovada’s NBA futures. Expect big things out of the deepest team the East has to offer when George and West are joined by ex-Spur George Hill and 7-foot-2 force Roy Hibbert. If their names aren’t familiar yet, that’s about to change. Although no doubt the beneficiaries of some luck after Derrick Rose was deemed unable to suit up for the reigning Central Division champion Chicago Bulls, the Pacers have been proving themselves since the beginning of the season. What’s more, they’ve been a playoff — or close to playoff — team every year since 1990. Is this the year the Pacers prove to the NBA betting world that they’re more than a fringe postseason bracket-filler? Bet on the NBA at Bovada.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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