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Bet on the NBARemember when the Orlando Magic, in Game 1 of their first round playoff series, playing without star center Dwight Howard, defeated the third seed Indiana Pacers in Indinapolis? And we all thought that the Magic had a chance to advance to the second round purely on the genius of head coach Stan Van Gundy and upset an Indiana team without a true legitimate superstar?

Well, none of that happened. The Pacers won the next four games in a row, defending their home court in Game 2, stealing both games in Orlando, and eliminating the Magic in Game 5 back in Indianapolis. Not since Reggie Miller was scoring 8 points every 12 seconds or so have the Pacers won a playoff series, and they did with on the back of rising star Danny Granger, who scored 25 points to blow out the Magic 105-87 in Game 5. Click here to see how the Pacer's odds stack up against their next opponent, the Miami Heat.

While everyone expected the Pacers to advance against the Howard-less Magic, the real difficulty in predicting the future has to do with the fate of Orlando's head coach. Van Gundy had come out publicly that he knows Howard has asked for his head, and his one chance to hang onto his position was to win against the Pacers. Maybe not a series victory, but at least push it to a Game 6 or 7. But the Magic exited in five games, making Van Gundy's job less secure with each passing moment in the fourth quarter of Game 5, a quarter in which the Pacers outscored the Magic 36-16.

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The Pacers will go on to face the Miami Heat in round two of the Eastern Conference playoffs, and everyone expects them to play a hard-fought yet losing battle against Miami. Without a superstar, though, the Pacers have had a remarkable season, locking up the third seed in the East, improving on their record last year, outlasting a first round basketball betting playoff series opponent, and getting ready to face the favorite team in the NBA to win the championship.

From here on out, every game for the Pacers is a bonus game. No one expects them to win against the Heat, the most reviled team in the NBA (deservingly or not). But with each win over Miami, expect the Pacers to gain confidence in the series going forward.


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