As we approach the WNBA All-Star Break, this league continues to thrill — with the already chaotic Phoenix Mercury living out a drama in real time.
(Hmmmm … maybe it wasn’t that Tina Charles was the only difficult player to play with on a team with Sophie Cunningham, Skylar Diggins-Smith, and Diana Taurasi …)
In terms of on-court action — (obviously secondary to drama) — there’s plenty of chaos there, as well: The Aces have lost their hold on the top seed; the Storm have made this a four-team race.
(Cut to: Mystics fans peeking around the corner to see if anyone has noticed their record in games with Elena Delle Donne.)
The Lynx suddenly look like Cheryl Reeve teams of old.
Now onto betting. I have expressed my pain on Twitter with several late unders losing thanks to teams fouling while down double-digits with less than a minute to go.
… But you’re not here to listen to a grown man complain about bad beats, so let’s get into the actual picks for today’s fun lineup.
Article Plays: 19-18-0 (2.3% ROI)
Action Network App Plays: 39-39-1 (-4.9% ROI)
WNBA Odds, Picks
Click on game to skip ahead.
|Sky vs. Lynx||1 p.m. ET|
|Mystics vs. Dream||8 p.m. ET|
|Liberty vs. Aces||10 p.m. ET|
Sky vs. Lynx
|Moneyline||-140 / +120|
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute WNBA odds here.|
Very nearly all hands on deck for this one, with only the long-term absence of Napheesa Collier for the Lynx preventing the fully clean bill of health.
Two Plausible Game Scripts
As I have previously noted, these weekday afternoon games feel all over the place. They are awesome in that you get the camp crowds there, and the kids bring great energy to the arenas. But, you can tell that it throws off the players’ routine, and there’s usually a little weirdness in the final box score.
Because of this strange dynamic, there are several different ways that I intend to bet this game.
First and foremost, I think the books are shorting the Sky a bit. In fact, the line has already shifted in that direction. This is a team that has only lost two games with its full starting five: A 2-point loss on the road versus the Mystics (with EDD), and a home loss to the Las Vegas Aces when they were going scorched-earth on the entire league.
The Lynx have undoubtedly been impressive in the past several weeks; in fact, their 7-1 record against the spread (ATS) in the last eight games makes them a little scary to bet against right now. The Lynx just beat those aforementioned Aces by 31 points the last time they were on the court!
So, that’s the other angle: I’m going to take to cover myself a bit.
DraftKings has winning margin bets that I typically stay away from, because the hold is higher than I can stomach. However, Minnesota has shown its ability to deliver a blowout beatdown even against strong teams (two games before the Aces blowout was a 28-point win over the Wings).
So, I’m going to sprinkle a small amount on the Lynx to win by over 20 points. These afternoon games are wonky, and the Lynx have done this recently.
I’m going to throw in one final bet — one that doesn’t run in line with the previous two. Nevertheless, this pick follows a trend I found using Action Labs and referenced in my last preview that featured an afternoon tipoff: Betting the under during afternoon games is an 8.3% ROI play during the last decade.
I realize this action is a bit scattered, but again — that’s how these afternoon games often are.
Pick: Chicago moneyline -140
Lean: Under 171.5
Sprinkle (0.1 units): MIN to win by 21-25 · MIN to win by 26+
Mystics vs. Dream
|Moneyline||-220 / +180|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute WNBA odds here.|
As always, the biggest pivot-point for the Mystics is Elena Delle Donne. The 6-foot-5 do-everything superstar missed the previous game for a scheduled rest after having played in three consecutive games for only the second time all season.
There is no news out on Delle Donne as of writing, but typically she only rests for one game, so one would have to imagine she is back for tonight’s action.
For the Dream, Nia Coffey (knee) missed her sixth straight game last time out against the Storm, but there is no word yet on whether she will play tonight.
Year of the Over?
A trend we have noted a few times in these previews is that overs have been more profitable than unders during this WNBA season. Of course, this kind of trend is always cyclical; the books eventually catch up, and you can even catch them over-adjusting at times.
In fact, playing the over recently dropped down into the red again. Strictly betting overs would yield a -1.0% ROI compared to -9.6% ROI betting strictly unders. (Those holds will get you!)
Nonetheless, I am indeed leaning towards another over here for a couple reasons.
On its face, it might seem crazy to bet the over on a game featuring the second- and third-best defenses on a points per possession basis. However, the books aren’t stupid. They know that these are two good defenses, and thus, we have a nice, low 156-point opening line. That’s not a hard number to clear.
There have been 16 games that opened with a game total of 156 or lower this season. The over has gone 12-4 across that sample, yielding a 42.3% ROI.
Clearly, this is not a sufficiently large sample size to build off of, but the point remains: Not many WNBA games go under 156 points. It’s more a fluke than anything else when they do.
Also, the last time these two teams met, they combined for 166 points — and it wasn’t particularly fluky. The Mystics were hot from 3, but the Dream were just as cold.
Finally, I like the way the Mystics offense matches up with the Dream defense. When looking over key factors for Washington, nothing really pops. It doesn’t rely on free throws, nor forcing turnovers to key fastbreak opportunities. Rather, Washington simply goes out and executes. This isn’t shocking for a veteran team led by Natasha Cloud and coached by Mike Thibault.
The Atlanta defense is great, but it’s a young defense that has shown signs of slowing down in recent games: The Dream have allowed 87.3 points per game in their last nine games, compared to 73.1 points per game in their first 12 games.
Pick: Over 156 (up to 158.5)
Liberty vs. Aces
|Moneyline||+440 / -580|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute WNBA odds here.|
The lengthy injury report for New York remains:
Nyara Sabally, Jocelyn Willoughby, and Betnijah Laney are all long-term absences. Meanwhile, Rebecca Allen has been in and out of the lineup lately and will officially miss tonight’s game for rest purposes.
The Aces are the opposite, with every rotation player available as of writing.
Limping to the Break
These are a couple of teams who will be very happy for this week’s All-Star Break.
The Aces started the season 13-2 before dropping four of their last six, with some rough losses during that run. They blew the biggest lead in WNBA history to kick off the streak.
I don’t think that has had a mental impact on these players (they are professionals). However, I do think it was indicative of a lack of depth on the squad that is showing itself in the form of exhaustion down the All-Star Break stretch run.
This was a team that looked downright unbeatable for the first couple months of the season and just lost by 31 (!) to a very below-average team in its last game. The Lynx hadn’t scored 102 points in a game since 2017 when they were the eventual champions that year. This wasn’t that Lynx team, and it showed just where the Aces are at right now.
However, things aren’t a whole lot brighter across the court. The Liberty started off the season 1-7 and appeared ready to watch the playoffs from home yet again this season.
But, with the much-ballyhooed arrival of Crystal Dangerfield, the team has seemingly unlocked some of its potential. New York rattled off wins in seven of its next 10 games and played itself back into a playoff spot along the way.
That’s what makes the last two games so disappointing (for Liberty fans such as myself). Those losses came to teams that they are battling for those final playoff spots. Now, the question becomes whether to rush their star player, Laney, back from injury to make a push for this postseason, or try to land one more star in the draft next season.
All of that is to say: Stay away.
This game could go a million different ways, and I’m not entirely sure that anyone is capable of setting a number for these two teams, both of whom look gassed and ready for a break. You might read that as ‘playing the over,’ but neither offense has been particularly clicking during this recent stretch either.
If you need, need, need a play — I am going to sprinkle a tiny bit on the Liberty to win, because I see this game as pure chaos. Moreover, the number (+440) is a big reward for a game that seems capable of going a million different ways.
This is especially true since the Liberty get up the most 3s per game of any team in the league. Furthermore, the Aces allow the most 3s attempted per game.
That sort of shot variance — plus two teams going who-knows-which-way — makes +440 intriguing.
Sprinkle (0.25 units): Liberty moneyline