WNBA Playoffs Betting Preview: 2 Picks for Wings vs. Sky and Liberty vs. Mercury
WNBA betting analyst Michael Arinze previews Thursday's postseason double-header with picks for Wings vs. Sky and Liberty vs. Mercury.
The WNBA playoffs get underway on Thursday with two games on the schedule. The Dallas Wings travel to Chicago to take on the Sky in the No. 6 vs. No. 7 matchup, while the Phoenix Mercury will host the New York Liberty in the No. 5 vs. No. 8 matchup.
Here’s a quick refresher on the playoff format:
- The first two postseason rounds are single-elimination games.
- The first-round winners will advance to take on the third and fourth seeds.
- Teams that advance will be re-seeded after each round.
- The league doesn’t introduce a best-of-five series until the semifinals round.
Now that we have that bit of business out of the way let’s get to the games on the hardwood.
Projected WNBA Odds
|Matchup||Time||Proj. Spread||Proj. Total|
|Wings vs. Sky||8 p.m. ET||164.89||Sky -1.84|
|Liberty vs. Mercury||10 p.m. ET||163.57||Mercury -9.59|
Wings at Sky Odds
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute WNBA odds here.|
Coming into the season, I expected the Sky to be more of a defensive team after landing Candace Parker as a free agent. After all, she was the reigning WNBA Defensive Player of the Year.
Instead, Chicago has surprised me as much more of an uptempo team. They finished third in the league in pace with 81.22 possessions per 40 minutes. That resulted in 19 of their 32 games going over the total. With the Sky as the home team, I’d fully expect them to dictate tempo in this game.
This will be the Sky’s fourth meeting against the Wings this year. Dallas won the regular-season series (2-1), with two of the three games sailing over the total. Both teams like to get out and run as they’re ranked in the top three in fast breakpoints and the bottom four in fastbreak points allowed.
My model projects a total of 164.89 points in this matchup. The total opened at 162.5 and according to our BetLabs database, playoff games with an opening total of at least 162.5 points are 55-37-1 to the over for 14.44 units.
That’s a 59.8% rate to the over, which is even slightly better than Chicago’s 59.4% mark this season. To sum things up, I think we have a good case here for a high-scoring contest.
Pick: Over 162.5
Liberty vs. Mercury Odds
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute WNBA odds here.|
The Liberty went into the final game of the regular season knowing they did not control their playoff destiny.
First, they needed to defeat the Mystics at home on Friday night. Then, they’d need the Mystics to lose again on Sunday and the Sparks to lose on the road against the Wings.
What seemed like an impossible dream became reality as all three events occurred, and the Liberty miraculously clinched the eighth and final playoff spot.
Looking at how they started the season, New York won its first three games and was even 5-1 after six games. However, the truth is their schedule was a bit soft at the beginning. It also faced some teams without their key players. While the Liberty certainly did some positive things in the offseason to put pieces around last year’s top overall pick, Sabrina Ionescu, it became abundantly early on that they lacked the presence inside to cope with the better teams in the league.
New York finished dead last in opponent points in the paint allowing 38.4 per game. Now they’ll face a Mercury team that’s very capable of using size on the inside to not only score but to get to the foul line. Note that Phoenix finished ranked second in the league with 19.4 free throw attempts and 15.5 free-throws made per game.
This is a bad matchup for the Liberty when you consider the Mercury’s physicality with players like Brittney Griner in the frontcourt.
One slight concern you might have if you’re a Mercury fan is the injury status of All-Star point guard Diana Taurasi, who last played on Sep. 6. due to an ankle injury. At the time, the team was on a nine-game winning streak, but since then, the group has gone just 1-4 with four straight losses.
It’s unclear whether she could’ve featured in the remaining games down the stretch, but she should have benefited from the additional rest. All signs point to her having a full week of practice in preparation for Thursday. As long as she can suit up, I’d lay the 9.5 points with the Mercury at home.
I also like their value at +900 to win the title.
Pick: Mercury -9.5