Over in that other professional basketball league in the U.S., George Karl once called this time of the year “silly season.” Well, it appears as though the WNBA may be mirroring its sibling league, as the past few weeks have been straight chaotic.
Off the court, there has been the Tina Charles mess in Phoenix, but even more so, the action has been all over the place on the court. If you had just bet underdogs on the spread in the month of June, you would be up 8.5%, according to Action Network’s awesome Bet Labs feature.
If you were to just bet the underdogs straight up on the moneyline this month, you’d be up an even sillier 13.3%. Teams like the Lynx and Mercury, who appeared dead in the water, have risen from the dead. At the same time, front-runners like the Aces and Sun have looked far more human of late.
In part because of that chaos, we’ve seen our numbers drop off a bit here in terms of ROI, but let’s try to steady the ship and hand out some winners for today’s three games.
Article advice: 13-15-0 (-7.0 percent)
On the app, full season: 33-34-1 (-4.4 percent)
WNBA Odds, Picks
Click on game to skip ahead
|Sun vs. Sky||Noon ET|
|Fever vs. Mercury||10 p.m. ET|
|Aces vs. Storm||10 p.m. ET|
Sun vs. Sky
|Moneyline||+124 / -152|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute WNBA odds here.|
For the Sky, they’re likely to return reigning Finals MVP Kahleah Copper to their lineup after the talented guard missed their last game against the Lynx with a back injury.
The only thing that might delay her return is the early start today and Chicago not wanting to rush anyone back, but she is listed as probable.
For Connecticut, the lone name on the injury report remains Jasmine Thomas, who is out for the year with her torn ACL.
The Connecticut Sun(ders)
As noted in the intro, the Sun haven’t quite looked themselves lately, having lost three of their last six. It’s on the offensive side of things where they have looked a bit off.
After averaging 87.7 points per game in their first 13 games of the year, that average has dropped noticeably to 79.7 over the past six games.
So, has it been a case of a small sample size? Just bumping into a few good defenses in a row? Fatigue? I think the answer is yes to all of the above.
Six games is never enough to define a trend definitively, and they’ve played a few top defenses during this stretch, in the Storm, Dream, Liberty and Mystics. But I also think there’s a little bit of fatigue there, as well as a few other teams figuring out the Sun offense with Thomas out.
The Sun and the Aces both boast elite starting fives, but both struggle a bit with depth. That might seem crazy for the Sun, considering Brionna Jones is the likely Sixth Player of the Year, but they have basically seven players they can count on, including DiJonai Carrington, who has been shaky this month.
The Sky, meanwhile, have 10 really solid players and seem built for these dog days of the season. They are 10-1 in their last 11 games overall, and 6-5 against the spread.
Because of that, I’m going to go with the Sky covering the spread if Copper is officially playing.
I’m going to lean to the under as well here. That’s in part because of the Sun, but also because the under has proven to be a reliable hit in these afternoon WNBA games over the past decade. According to Bet Labs, the under has an 8.5% ROI in the past decade for WNBA games that start before 6 p.m. ET.
The under has already gained a little steam as well, which tells me we’re headed in the right direction. It also tells me to make the play soon before the edge is gone.
Now, these afternoon games can be a bit chaotic, so I don’t blame you if you want to stay away entirely. But somehow, I’m handing out two picks here. YOLO.
Pick: Sky -2.5 · Under 165.5
Fever vs. Mercury
|Moneyline||+235 / -294|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute WNBA odds here.|
As has been the case all season, the Phoenix injury/news section has to lead with Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia for more than 100 days.
Kia Nurse is still to make her 2022 debut for Phoenix.
It’s a clean bill of health for the Indiana Fever.
Ok, maybe the Tina Charles thing was a thing
If you haven’t heard by now, the Phoenix Mercury and Tina Charles underwent a conscious uncoupling last week, and the Mercury seem to be winning the breakup. The team immediately rattled off a pair of wins, and a few of their players have looked (and sounded) pretty pleased about it.
On the Action Network app (where you can follow me at TurveyBets) — before their game against the Fever on Monday — I threw out the theory that maybe folks were overplaying this narrative because who doesn’t love some spicy drama to gamble on?
Well, the Mercury came out and won big again, and now I’m more amenable to the idea that Phoenix may indeed have undergone addition by subtraction. It’s not to the point of buying Phoenix futures or anything like that, but I’m certainly not going to be actively trying to fade the idea that they could’ve gotten better.
Instead, let’s take a look at the matchup between these two teams on Monday to see if there’s anything we can pick up on for the rematch today.
The number that jumps off of the page is seven. That’s the number of made 3s from Diana Taurasi, doing so on 15 (!) attempts. That led to a game-high 27 points, Taurasi’s highest point total in a win this season.
The other thing that jumped out was that four of the five Fever starters had at least three turnovers. The Fever lead the league in opponent fastbreak points per game thanks to their high turnover rate. If the Mercury are indeed playing with a little extra pep in their step, that’s where they’re going to take advantage.
In all honesty, I don’t love any angle for this game. I do, however, feel quite confident the Mercury will at least win this game, playing with the chip on their shoulder that they have. The Fever, meanwhile, don’t have as much to play for.
I hate laying this much juice, but I’m going to target the Phoenix moneyline.
Pick: Mercury ML -294
Aces vs. Storm
|Moneyline||-120 / +100|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute WNBA odds here.|
Chelsea Gray, who was ruled out late for Monday’s brutal non-cover against the Sparks (can you tell I had the Aces -6.5 and watched them miss three free throws in the final minute to win by six?) is still listed as day-to-day.
Mercedes Russell is still on the shelf for the Storm, but Tina Charles should be available to make her debut for the Storm after her much-written-about-in-this-very-article breakup with the Mercury last week.
Strange opening line
This line opened at Seattle -2.5 overnight, and unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to jump on it. The line has already shifted dramatically, however, and the Aces are now favored at most books.
I think the books may have over-corrected. though. At Seattle -2.5, I would have taken the Aces. But with the Storm now at plus-money on the moneyline, I’m actually switching around and looking at Seattle.
(Conspiracy Jim is also somewhat convinced that the books threw out this opening line to collect a whole lot of Aces money, seeing as they are the smart man’s pick for best team in the W right now.)
As we’ve noted a couple of times in this piece, the Aces have stalled out a bit of late. While their full-season spread ROI is only slightly negative, their spread ROI for June is a whopping -76.1%, as they’ve covered just one of their last nine games.
The Storm, meanwhile, should be bolstered by Charles — at least to start — as it usually takes some time for her teams to sour on her. With Sue Bird in much more of a creator role this season, the Storm offense has struggled to actually put points on the board at times this season, and Charles is nothing if not a bucket.
I also like the way the Storm defense matches up with the Aces. Las Vegas thrives on opponent turnovers, and the Storm turn the ball over less than any non-Aces team in the league.
They also are far better than the Aces in terms of preventing opponents from chucking up 3-pointers, a key element to the Vegas offense.
In fact, both teams match up pretty well defensively with each other, and I think we’re in for a closely-contested, relatively low-scoring affair. I’m slightly worried it will be so closely contested that overtime will be there to wreck an under. But for now, the line is good enough to make a lean.
I’m also going to lean toward the Storm, but I’m going to wait on betting it for two reasons. I really like the Storm if Chelsea Gray is out again. I would actually bet them all the way back to nearly that -2.5 number if the Aces’ point guard is out.
I also want to wait out this line move overall and see just how much extra juice we can get for the Storm before landing on a bet for them.
I know that’s a lot of moving pieces, but that’s the tricky part with previewing the game 12 hours out. Lo siento.
Pick: Storm ML (Play to -120 if Chelsea Gray is Out)
Lean: Under 166