Sky vs. Mercury Odds
|Moneyline||+165 / -195|
|Time||Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute WNBA odds here.|
The Phoenix Mercury look to bounce back on Wednesday night after dropping Game 1 of the WNBA Finals.
Phoenix couldn’t cope with a Chicago Sky team that shot 52.9% from the floor and racked up 48 points in the paint. That’s a bit of a surprise considering the Mercury allowed 33.5 points in the paint during the regular season.
Phoenix didn’t offer much resistance, finishing with just one block. During the regular season, it averaged 5.2 blocks per game. Instead, it was Chicago that served as the repellent on the interior with four blocks.
Phoenix will need to pick up the pieces and get back to the drawing board if it plans to salvage a split in the first two games of this series.
Projected WNBA Odds
|Matchup||Time||Proj. Spread||Proj. Total|
|Sky vs. Mercury||9 p.m. ET||Mercury -2.26||167.51|
Sky’s Breakout Player Causing Problems For The Mercury
If you’re like me and you’re holding on to some Mercury futures tickets, you can’t be happy with what you saw in Game 1. Phoenix has — or rather, had — the home-court advantage after finishing three games ahead of Chicago in the standings.
The Mercury entered the WNBA Finals with wins in all three of their head-to-head meetings with the Sky during the regular season. Granted, Candace Parker didn’t play in two of those games, but Phoenix features two current players (Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner) named as part of the WNBA’s top 25 players, whereas Chicago has one (Parker).
However, the player worthy of drawing plenty of attention amidst the star power is the Sky’s Kahleah Copper. Not only was the former Rutgers standout the top scorer (14.4 points per game) for Chicago during the regular season, but she’s upped her scoring average to 18.6 points in the playoffs. Copper contributed immensely to Chicago’s ability to score in the paint. I’m not sure there’s a player in the league with better finishes at the rim than Copper.
Just take a look at this Her Hoop Stats 2021 highlight package that’s filled with Euro steps, off-hand finishes, cradles and countless and-1’s.
Phoenix doesn’t have anyone who can guard the 6-foot-1 Copper because Taurasi doesn’t have the pace to keep up with her. She’s also too physical for either the 5-foot-9 Skylar Diggins-Smith or the 5-foot-7 Shey Peddy. This is where Phoenix misses its 6-foot guard Kia Nurse. Nurse would have drawn the defensive assignment on Copper had she not tore her ACL in Game 4 of the semifinals. Her absence is twofold because Nurse also averaged 17.7 points against the Sky in their three meetings earlier in the year. That’s eight points more than her regular-season average of 9.5.
Phoenix will have Sophie Cunningham back after missing the last three games with a calf injury. Cunningham can provide a massive boost if she can rediscover her shooting touch from downtown. In the first round against the Liberty, she went off by going 6-of-7 on 3-pointers in the ballgame.
For the Mercury to win this game, it would behoove them to slow down the pace, similar to their 77.97 possessions per game in the regular season. They also can’t afford to lose the rebounding battle and get outscored on second-chance points.
It’ll be interesting to see if Phoenix plays some zone to clog up the paint as a way to limit Copper from attacking the rim. Either way, it won’t be easy to slow down this Chicago team that had all of its starters finish Game 1 scoring double-digit points.
Nonetheless, I’d expect the Mercury to come out energized on their home court. This is something we’ve seen with Phoenix throughout the playoffs.
Don’t tell anyone, but Phoenix has led after the first quarter in all eight of their playoff games this season.
It’s the remaining three quarters that worry me as fatigue sets in given Nurse’s absence.
After shopping around, I found that Unibet has a first-quarter money line with Phoenix at -148 while most other books are right around -150.
Pick: Mercury First Quarter ML (-148)