Mercury vs. Sparks Preview: 2 Bets for Opening Night

Action Network contributor Jim Turvey breaks down how to bet Phoenix Mercury vs. Los Angeles Sparks and offers up a betting pick for Friday's WNBA matchup.

Mercury vs. Sparks Odds

Friday, May 19
11 p.m. ET
Mercury Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-106 / -114
Sparks Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-106 / -114
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute WNBA odds here.

The storyline with this game is obviously the return of Brittney Griner to the court. It’s going to be an amazing moment for both her personally, but also the team, and the league as a whole, who kept her in the spotlight during the past year.

From an on the court perspective, this should also make for a fascinating battle. Both teams look very different from last season, and as such, these early games should be quite telling.

Here’s a look at the matchup and my betting picks for Mercury vs Sparks.

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Phoenix Mercury

For the Mercury, the most notable change to last season’s team is of course the return of Griner, but the differences hardly stop there. Skylar Diggins-Smith (who stepped away from the team for the final few games of last season) is out on maternity leave, and it is unknown if she will even be returning to the Mercury this season, or ever, given how things were between her and the organization late last season. The only thing that is known is that she will definitely not be on the court Friday night.

Neither will Sophie Cunningham, who had a breakout season for the Mercury last year, and was being looked at as a potential breakout player for 2023 as well. She injured her knee in a preseason game, and now joins: Shey Peddy, Megan Gustafson, and Diggins-Smith on the Mercury injured list. Phoenix will have just eight players available on Friday.

Los Angeles Sparks

It’s rather unsurprising then that the Sparks are favored over the Mercury despite coming off a worse season.
The Sparks’ biggest addition this offseason was arguably off the court, with Karen Bryant hired as the general manager, and Curt Miller hired as head coach. Miller is one of the best coaches in the sport, and he is one of the reasons I like the Sparks to return to the postseason in 2023.

However, there were plenty of on-court moves this offseason for L.A. as well. Unfortunately, two of their key additions this offseason — Azura Stevens and Jasmine Thomas — are also out on Friday. However, the home crowd will get to see the season debut for Dearica Hamby, who joins a strong post presence on this team, in the form of Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike.

Before some of these injuries, I was assuming the Sparks were going to be home underdogs and I was going to be looking to bet on them. However, thanks in part to some of these injuries, the books sniffed out this opportunity, so I am turning instead to a couple of player props.

Mercury-Sparks Pick

It’s amazing to see player props available on opening night, this is yet another bet type that hadn’t been available this early in seasons past.

The first bet is one we all want to make: Brittney Griner over 6.5 rebounds -128 at FanDuel. Griner averaged 9.5 rebounds per game her last season in the W, and while there will obviously be some rust to shake off, she should be incredibly energized in her return to the court and be able to take advantage of an undersized Sparks team.

The other prop I am looking at is Nneka Ogwumike over 16.5 points -122 at FanDuel. Ogwumike averaged 18.1 points per game in 2022, and with Stevens unable to make her season debut, and with last season’s number two scorer, Brittney Sykes, in Washington now, the scoring load should fall once again to Nneka.

Make sure to shop these props around before game time, as they are only available at FanDuel as of writing, but may be available elsewhere closer to tip-off.

Pick: Brittney Griner Over 6.5 Rebounds

Pick: Nneka Ogwumike over 16.5 Points

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